The dogwoods should be in full bloom on Sunday, April 13.

The dogwoods should be in full bloom on Sunday, April 13.

That’s the hope of the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce and the Neosho Rotary Club, which has scheduled their 53rd annual Dogwood Tour for that day, on streets and roads in and surrounding Neosho.

“On that Sunday the Rotary will have a tent set up on the north end of the Neosho High School parking lot,” according to Lauri Lyerla, interim chamber director, “where they will be distributing maps; and the first 100 people there, they plan on having 100 of the dogwood trees to give away.”

Lyerla said Rotary Club members will be on site to distribute the Dogwood Tour maps and other information from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Also that day, Lyerla said over 2,000 trees of various species will be given away by the Missouri Department of Conservation as part of the annual Open House hosted by the Friends of the Neosho National Fish Hatchery.

“They’re going to have lots of food, booths, music and a lot of activities going on,” she said.

The Open House continues at the 520 Park St. Fish Hatchery from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Lyerla said hatchery staff will provide tours while the Friends group serves cookies and coffee beginning at 9 a.m., and hot dogs will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

As dogwoods peak in bloom traditionally near Easter, Lyerla said you can drive anywhere around and see the many white flowers. However, she said the Rotary Club has developed a driving tour map that takes motorists onto, “Certain streets where there are more of them, so if you want to see where the most concentrated areas of them are, the map is what helps that.”

Lyerla said there are both a city, and a rural tour, which takes travelers through heavy concentrations of dogwood trees outside of the city.

Lyerla said the Rotary Club initiated the Dogwood Tour in 1961, “as a tourism tool to bring people to Neosho, and it being Missouri’s official tree.”

“I think just by starting that, it is something that people try to add into their landscaping; and they are so pretty here,” she said.

Lyerla said she spotted her first dogwood blooms this week, and is hopeful they will be in full color on April 13. She said skilled organizers set the annual date according to estimates as to when the bloom will be at its peak.

“Lots of times they’ll adjust that if it doesn’t look they are going to bloom in time,” she said, “but they said there’s no adjusting it this year just because of the way the holiday falls; so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that everything is in bloom at the right time.”

Easter 2014 falls on the following Sunday, April 20.

Over the years, Lyerla said the Dogwood Tour has brought thousands of visitors into the community to share in the beauty of Missouri’s official tree, which graces many hills and hollows of the Neosho area.