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Wooden clogs may have been a fashion trend in Holland, but one small town in Iowa is bringing back the style. If you are one of the few people that aren’t wearing them, chances are you will be getting strange looks. At least during the Orange City Tulip Festival, that is.
This festival is a tradition celebrating the Dutch heritage in Orange City dating back to 1936. Over 50,000 Tulips are imported from Holland and Planted in Orange City each year filling the streets and Windmill Park.
Stories from the Tulip Festival have spread all over the state and Midwest. It’s such a popular attraction that every year over 100,000 people visits. It reminds me a little of the Whalan’s MN’s Stand Still Parade. A lot of residents grew up in the area and make the trip back the third weekend of May for the festivities.
They usually bring a few extra people along for the ride. Spend a few hours here, and you can understand why. The fun is nonstop and can be a little overwhelming to those that don’t know the ways.
5 Free Things at the Orange City Tulip Festival
1. Fietsen Zangers
The bicycle singer performs acapella down central avenue singing in traditional Dutch songs. Dressed in proper attire and riding Dutch-style bikes, they are hard to miss coming down the street.
They usually stop near the Royal Courts throne around 12-1 to share their traditional Dutch songs. Be careful not to get too close, because you might find yourself being serenaded as this one Minneapolis couple did. It all is great fun and not to be missed!
2. Straat Feest
Dancers of all ages line the streets and perform authentic Dutch dances, wearing traditional wooden shoes. If you’re wondering how anyone could dance in them, some less experienced dancers or those with ill-fitting shoes use an elastic strap to secure them better to their feet. While others use nothing at all. Defiantly a talent.
To get the best show, make sure to sit near the royal court on Central Ave between 2nd Street and 1st Street. Otherwise, you’ll be seeing a lot of kids linked hand and hand running down the street. While still fun to watch, the dancing is even better.
3. Street Scrubbing
Following the Straat Feest, the town council members judge the cleanliness of the street the Tulip Queen will be arriving, and it has to be perfect. And if it’s not, they call for the brooms! Men, Women, and Children all come out dousing the street and using brushes to clean up the streets.
In case you’re wondering if the council member has ever dubbed the street clean, he hasn’t. Word of warning, if you have your feet on the road or are near a troth of water, you will get wet!
4 . The Volksparade
This isn’t your typical parade where candy gets thrown at children, but you won’t care because you’ll be having so much fun. The parade runs twice daily at 2:15 and 6. It covers five city blocks.
People start lining up early along the streets to reserve a spot. If you forget your chair, no worries, you can grab some reserved seating for $4 or find an open curb spot. Colorful floats will pass by, marching bands and everything in-between.
5. Windmill Park
Visit the miniature windmills garden, filled with tulips. You’ll think you’re in the Netherlands. Complete with a canal and bridge.
The park has many different beds of tulips all over in different colors and varieties. Everywhere people are taking full advantage of the photo opportunities.
The park is hard to miss since it’s in the center of all the action. Get there early if you want to avoid the crowds. Or try visiting during the parade.
There is a great kids play area to let the kids unwind at if you are concerned about them running into a field of tulips.
Would I go back?
This was one of the most colorful festivals I’ve attended, filled with a community that isn’t afraid to put on some wooden shoes and dress in costume. Make sure to participate in this festival at least once in your life!