No ordinary Affair…A Delray Affair

The Delray Affair, originally known as The Delray Gladioli Festival was created in Delray Beach shortly after World War II in 1947.

The festival was created to provide farmers a way to display and sell their flowers to the public. Farms that spanned from Congress Avenue to US Highway 441 participated in this festival to make some money. It was held each February in the 40’s and 50’s and attracted both tourists and local residents.

“It was an exposition that attracted flower buyers from all over the country,” said Roy Simon, a Delray Beach native and former Chamber of Commerce member that has been a volunteer since it was the Gladioli Festival. He helped the festival evolve into what it is today.

Due to development and a transition from flower farming to vegetable farming, The Delray Gladioli Festival died out and transitioned into the small Agricultural Expo. Roy Simon envisioned more for the Expo and was inspired to add art by the Winter Park Art Festival. Wanting to improve upon the festival and increase profits for the community, Simon helped gather local community leaders for an organizational meeting. It was at this first meeting in 1962 that the committee and their chair, John Bordeman, chose “The Delray Affair” as the name of the festival that would now include arts and crafts in addition to agricultural goods. The affair was developed to extend the snowbird season by one week so that city merchants could make some more money during the slow season.

The festival is now held in Downtown Delray Beach along Atlantic Avenue. The festival is historically held on the weekend after Easter in order to extend the tourist season and create an incentive for seasonal residents to stay longer. The festival has grown from 24 exhibitors in 1962 to now having over 700 exhibitors with nearly 300,000 people that attend. Admission is free however it costs $5 for public parking.

Over the years, The Delray Affair has made an economic impact of over $40 million for the city of Delray Beach. According to the Palm Beach County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, The Delray Affair plays a very important role in tourism which is one of their major industries. Tourism generates a direct annual economic impact of over $3 billion in the local economy, $29 million in bed-tax revenue and lodging sales exceeding $600 million.

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