Planners in Pella are anxiously awaiting the Thursday opening of this year’s Tulip Festival.
Pella Historical Village spokesperson, Valerie Van Kooten, says they are prepping for lots of visitors during the three-day run. “We are expecting probably some of our largest crowds ever. If advanced ticket sales are any indication — the buses that are coming in — I think people are ready to get out,” she says.”If Saturday and Friday are decent weather I think we could be looking at another 250,000 visitor year.”
It will be the first time things are like they were before the pandemic. “We had, what we kind of called a tulip time light last year, where we didn’t have parades. We needed to control crowds in one area, so we had a lot of the events but we didn’t have parades to encourage people not to gather in one area,” Van Kooten explains. “So this year we’re back totally to where we were three years ago in 2019.”
The cold weather has slowed the tulip growth a bit — but she says that is a good thing. “They’re just coming into their peak and I think they’ll be at their peak probably this weekend and into next week. So, it’s a rare year when they haven’t yet hit their peak by tulip time but this might be the year where they’re going to be good for another week or two,” she says.
Different varieties of tulips are planted to try and ensure there’s always color for the festival.
“We plant early varieties, middle varieties, and late varieties and the early varieties are coming up to be finished. The middle varieties are just blooming on full bloom and the late varieties are coming up and starting to show color,” according to Van Kooten. “So there’s always something blooming at Tulip Time, but they can’t all bloom at the same time because of the way they’re planted for early, middle or late.”
She says they learned from the changes they made in the scaled-back celebration. “It’s funny because as we meet and plan and everything, we all kind of have to think twice about how we did things, you know, three years ago and we learned a lot during the pandemic of things that work and things that don’t and some of the things we put in place during the pandemic will stay. So it wasn’t all bad. We learned a lot about our festival and about our visitors,” Van Kooten says.
You can find a full schedule of events at the website: pellahistorical.org.