On the Road: Kenyon

Welcome to Kenyon!
Home of the boulevard of roses…and yours truly.

Kenyon was founded back in 1856, but the first rose wasn’t planted in Kenyon until 1962 when Lloyd Jystad approached the city with an idea to liven up the boulevard.

With a little help and the continued support from the City of Kenyon, this idea flourished into the nearly 100 tree roses that stand today. 

"He went to the city with his idea and the city took it on and they were very gracious and supportive," said Tom Sahl, a former City of Kenyon employee and Jystad’s step-son.

At the cost of ten dollars each, the city purchased and planted the first ten tree roses in 1962.

As a city employee, it then became Jystad’s responsibility to care for the roses, but only after he finished work for the day.

Sahl recalls memories from his youth of helping his dad tend to the plants.

"We had to take a barrel of water everyday, fill it up, dip out, and water the trees," said Sahl.
 
After a few years, the city allowed Jystad to tend to the roses while on the clock.

"As time went, he continued to take care of them for the next ten years until he retired and then others continued to take care of them," said Sahl.

Roses are known to require a lot of care and attention, but for Sahl and Jystad, it was a labor of love.

"I had the honor of working for the City of Kenyon just up until recently and I had the privilege of taking care of the roses," said Sahl. "I did a lot of pruning. A lot of times I would forget my gloves and you get scratched up a bit, but knowing what I was doing was pretty special."

Sahl took great pride in caring for his step-father’s legacy.

"I was very proud to be following in his footsteps and continue on with what he started," said Sahl. "I felt really blessed to do that."

Blessed not just with the job, but so much more.

"Lloyd is more than a founder of the boulevard of roses in Kenyon, to our family he was our angel sent from heaven," said Sahl. "Because when my father died in a construction accident, there were five of us kids with my mom and he came into our lives and became our dad."

While digging around in the family archives, Sahl came across a letter from 1987 that shows how the boulevard of roses is a hallmark of the community. 

"This project has made the City of Kenyon a mecca for rose lovers here at home and has brought visitors from far beyond its boarders," read Sahl. "No count has been made or could be made of the number of people who have visited Kenyon and seen the tree roses when they were in full bloom. However, it undoubtedly has run into the tens of thousands during these past 25 years." 

Rosefest, an event honoring the planted boulevard, kicked off Friday and will wrap up on Sunday.

Activities throughout the weekend include city wide garage sales, street dances, the parade on Saturday, and much more.

In addition, the field of flags went up Thursday night. There are more than 200 flags will be blowing in the wind throughout the weekend.

"It means everything, we’re both veterans," said Mac McDonald, the Field of Flags organizer. "People just coming by and saying how nice this looks and thanking us for our service and it’s just America needs a shot in the arm like this all the time and just showing your patriotism and its a great way of doing it."

Field of flags is also a fundraiser for the veteran’s park, you can donate $20 to dedicate one of the flags to any American of your choosing.

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