Pella residents are preparing to host thousands of people for their annual Tulip Festival which begins Thursday. Pella Convention & Visitors Bureau director,Jill Vandevoort, says warm weather made the 200,000 or so flowers bloom early, but there will still be plenty of them to see.
“We do plant them over the course of four weeks here in Pella. So we have our early blooms as well as our later varieties,” Vandevoort explains. “Right now I would say we have still probably 60 percent of our tulips still in bloom.”
The early blooms led to the unusual situation where Pella planners were happy to see things cool off a little bit. “The dampness and rains last week, and the coolness were able to hold the tulips in place longer for us — and we are kind of grateful for that rain,” Vandevoort says. She says the rain is going away in time for people to attend all the festival events.
“Each day our guests can enjoy a number of tours, including our city tour. They can climb aboard our open-air wagons and learn a bit about our community, as well as see a number of other tulip-blooming locations around the community,” Vandevoort says. “We also of course have our Pella Historical Village and Vermeer Windmill. The Vermeer Windmill is the largest working grain windmill in the United States. If you haven’t seen that, it’s a very interesting tour to enjoy.”
There are many other activities, including the street cleaning prior to the parades. This will be the 81st festival and Vandevoort says it’s a great celebration of the community’s heritage. She says many of the residents come out to celebrate in their Dutch costumes and she says it is alright to ask to take pictures. “I think it’s just a great way for us to come together as a community. All of us are volunteers, and obviously if we didn’t have all of that volunteer effort that we have in our community, we couldn’t continue to host this event.”
Vandevoort has a couple of things that are at the top of her list when it comes to the Tulip Festival. “Probably the first thing I like to do is eat all of those many things that are available at our curbside vendors,” she says. “There’s a number of Dutch specialties that we don’t get to enjoy year-round either. So, probably eating my way around town is the thing I enjoy most.”
She also looks forward every year to greeting the visitors that come into town on tour buses. “Some of them have been coming for over 30 years, every single year. So, we know that those guests who have come in the past actually very much look forward to coming back on a yearly basis. And a lot of those are from out-of-state,” Vandevoort says.
There can be as many as 150,000 people who visit the festival. It runs through Saturday. For more information, go to RadioIowa.com or go to www.visitpella.com.