It is tulip time in Pella, Iowa. Pella is about 45 miles southeast of Des Moines and was settled in the late 1800s by Dutch immigrants. Each May, this city with a population of 10,000 hosts the Tulip Time festival. Nearly 125,000 people flock here. They come to view the thousands of tulips planted along the streets and parks. They enjoy rich, gooey pastries and other goodies baked by local bakers. They walk through the man-made “canal” complete with a drawbridge and gawk at several windmills. They line the streets to watch a two-hour parade. They shop at the “Dutch” market and watch the Dutch Family Singers perform traditional dances.
We weren’t quite sure of what to expect when we came here. We don’t generally visit tourist events like this one but I was quite impressed. This event is the most organized and coordinated event I have seen. The entire city, not just one group, participates and embraces the festival and visitors seemed to really enjoy themselves.
Pella is a prosperous town with a number of major businesses including the headquarters for Pella Corporation, the manufacturer of windows and Vermeer, a manufacturer of agricultural equipment so it doesn’t really need to rely on tourism for its survival. And perhaps the festival is a bit of a stretch when it comes to portraying Pella’s Dutch heritage. Still, we enjoyed this colorful event including the half-dozen interpretations (minus Tiny Tim’s version) of “Tiptoe through the Tulips.”