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Tulip Time

Submitted by on February 8, 2011 – 12:36 pmOne Comment

Did you know, Road Trips Gardeners, that 1,300 klompen dancers perform during Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan? Probably not. But, as gardeners, you probably do know that 6 million tulips bloom throughout Holland each spring!

If you’re a bulb fan, this is the tulip festival you don’t want to miss. Dates for 2011 are May 7 through 14, 2011. Of course, there’s more than flowers — really! The annual Tulip Time Festival is a celebration of Dutch heritage and culture: a multi-generational event that has a little bit of something for everyone including three parades, multiple Dutch dance performances, concerts, theatre, Dutch attractions, Dutch food, children’s events, trolley tours and more.

Who would have predicted that the “Best Small Town Festival” in America, with over 400,000 people attending each year, grew out of a Woman’s Literary Club meeting in 1927? There, Miss Lida Rogers, a biology teacher at Holland High School, suggested that Holland adopt the tulip as its official flower and celebrate it with a festival. The idea caught on, and the next year, the City Council purchased 100,000 tulip bulbs from the Netherlands to plant in city parks and other areas. Bulbs were also available to Holland residents at one cent apiece.

In the spring of 1929, thousands of tulips bloomed, and so began the history of this annual festival. By the mid 1930s, Tulip Time was nationally known. Except for a hiatus during World War II, Tulip Time has continued to thrive.

In fact, 1947 was a banner year, with the celebration of Holland’s Centennial and the strengthening of our Dutch ties. In appreciation for the City of Holland’s aid during the war, the people of Amsterdam presented the city with the barrel organ that now entertains visitors to Windmill Island Gardens.

Since the 1980s, the festival has been shortened, lengthened, even pushed a week earlier. But what has always been consistent is Tulip Time’s devotion to Dutch culture as well as its annual enhancements.

By the way, the average life of a tulip is 2.5 years. If tulips are planted from seed, they take 21 years to bloom.

For travel information on this area of southwest Michigan, go online.

(Photo at top courtesy of Holland Area Convention and Visitors Bureau; second photo courtesy of Tulip Time)

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