Tulip Time celebrates 90 years

Photo: Tulip Time Festival
Photo: Tulip Time Festival

Holland’s favorite festival is celebrating a big anniversary in 2019 — 90 years, to be exact.

It all started back in 1929 after the City of Holland planted 100,000 tulips. Today, over 5 million tulips bloom in the Holland area during the festival. Tulip Time is much more than a flower festival; it has resulted in a number of programs, pageantry, parades, costumes and of course, plenty of wooden shoes and Dutch dancers.

Executive Editor Kelsey Smith sat down with Gwen Auwerda, Tulip Time’s executive director, to get the inside scoop on this year’s festival.

Q. What are you doing special for Tulip Time’s 90th anniversary?

A. This year, Tulip Time is commemorating our ties to the Netherlands with some flair by painting our town orange. Each year, Amsterdam celebrates their monarch’s birthday with an all-day extravaganza heralding the House of Orange called Koninginnedag.

During the celebration, citizens dress not only themselves, but also the entire city in orange for the festivities. For Tulip Time’s 90th anniversary, our community plans to do the same: inviting Holland to gather together with orange spirit, dress and decor. For our community, this celebration is about more than being Dutch, because Tulip Time draws together the rich and diverse traditions of all our people — those with Dutch heritage and those enlivening our community with other cultures and traditions — Latina, Native American, Indian and more.

We have a new interactive public art project for the 90th — Klompen Garden. This is a public art project showcasing 45 pairs of artfully designed large “wooden” shoes installed in city parks and tulip beds throughout the downtown Holland area.

Festival attendees will be encouraged to step inside each pair of Klompen for an interactive experience and unique photo opportunity.

Gwen Auwerda, Tulip Time executive director
Gwen Auwerda, Tulip Time executive director

Q. As executive director for the last eight years, what has been your favorite part of Tulip Time?

A. My favorite part of Tulip Time is seeing the work our board and staff do together to execute a nine-day festival. I love talking with visitors to see where they are from and what they enjoy about our community and Tulip Time. Last year, our visitors came from all 50 states and over 30 countries.

Q. What are you most proud of about your organization?

A. I am most proud of our community, and the many organizations and volunteers who come together to host a festival that generates $48 million of economic impact. n

Check out Tulip Time from May 4–12.

Tulip Time Festival