Nothing says spring like the first blooms of the season - covered with early morning dew, in every color under the rainbow! Right about now, more than 6 million tulips are preparing for their debut in Holland, Michigan, for the annual Tulip Time Festival! This celebration of Dutch culture was introduced 80 years ago.by a biology teacher.
This year's fest is May 2 - May 9. Sixty to 70 varieties of tulips have been carefully cultivated, lining the streets, adorning the shops and filling the parks of Holland.
Each year, more than half a million people visit the popular festival, where there's a lot going on. Besides a tip-toe through the tulips, they've got concerts - that's Tulipalooza -several parades, a carnival, authentic Dutch food, music and Klompen dancers!
Just north of the downtown area is Veldheer Tulip Gardens, De Klomp Woodenshoe Factory and Delftware Factory! Hundreds of hand-painted delft items fill the shop. You can watch artisans at work. On the other side are rows and rows of wooden shoes, called Klompen. These wooden clogs are actually quite comfortable, healthy for your feet and were a staple of Dutch life.
The Dutch used them quite heavily in the Netherlands because of the salty land rotting the leather," said Jim Veldheer, president, Beldheer Tulip Gardens, De Klopm Woodenshoe Factory.
The shoes are made from Michigan white poplar. It takes 20 minutes by machine to carve them from blocks of wood. They dry for three weeks before being sanded, decorated and lacquered.
"I'm really lucky. My mom saves everything! Like my Dutch wooden shoes when I came to Holland, Michigan, as a kid! So I figured since I was coming here today, I could get fitted for a new pair. These might be a little to small!" said ABC7's Roz Varon during her trip.
Your visit to Holland isn't complete without a stop at Windmill Island, home of the only authentic Dutch windmill operating in the United States today. The 248-year-old windmill is named Dezwaan, meaning "graceful bird." The windmill arrived in Holland, Michigan, from the Netherlands in 1964. Visitors can tour the majestic 12-story structure for free.
Even though the Tulip Time Festival is only one week, the tulips will last up to one month. The variety of attractions - they're saying "welkom" year 'round!