Tulip growth in line with festival preparations

That’s according to Gwen Auwerda, executive director of Tulip Time. In Holland, the end of winter signifies the beginning of Tulip Watch — the period of time during which 455,000 bulbs, planted between September and November 2018, begin to rise.

“They are doing really well,” Auwerda said. “We like this cooler weather at night. It’s just starting to get warm out, so — once we’re in the middle of April — we’ll see how cool the evenings are and how warm the days are. But right now, we’re right on track for good blooms in May.”

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Travelers on Eighth Street in downtown Holland will likely notice that tulip growth has already begun.

“They are supposed to be sticking out of the ground at this time,” Auwerda said. “So, what we’re seeing is correct. I know some people get nervous because they’re already poking through, but it really takes the next four to six weeks for them to grow.”

According to Auwerda, the unpredictable nature of tulip growth is the biggest challenge in planning the festival.

“Our phone really does start ringing as it warms up,” she said. “Because people want to know how the tulips are doing and if they’ll bloom on time. And we’re happy to share with them. But the festival is much more than the tulips, because we really don’t have any control over that.”

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the Tulip Time Festival. During the festival, that milestone will be celebrated with a Klompen Garden.

“We have 45 pairs of large shoes that are modeled after a wooden shoe,” Auwerda said. “They were made by a local manufacturer using a composite material. Now, those shoes are being decorated by local artists. They’ll be completed and out in parks just before and after the festival.”

More standard events will also take place.

“We’ll have the dancing and the parades,” Auwerda said. “Tickets are currently on sale for everything. We have one sold-out show already, so if people want tickets, it’s time to get on it. We’ve got some fabulous entertainment this year.”

Even though Tulip Time — which will take place May 4-12 — is still more than five weeks away, volunteers are being sought.

“Most of our volunteer opportunities are online now,” Auwerda said. “We have more than 800 volunteers during the week of the festival, so anyone who’s interested can get connected with us online and we’ll find something they’d like to do.”


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