Tulip Time Festival 86th Annual - Page 22

A tradition returns Pella set for pandemic-modified Tulip Time

By Emily Hawk Herald correspondent
PELLA – This spring , thousands of tulips aren ’ t the only tourist attraction returning to Pella .
The 86th annual Tulip Time Festival is making a comeback after it was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic .
The festival will look different this year , but the Tulip Time Steering Committee has spent months making sure the festival is as safe as possible . There will still be a plethora of poffertjes , the coronation of the Tulip Queen and her Court , Dutch dancers in wooden clogs , performances by local bands and nearly 35 years of rich traditions , but the parades , a festival trademark , will not be happening this year .
Traditionally held each day of the festival , the parades typically draw thousands of spectators in concentrated areas . To promote social distancing , ten floats will be on display throughout Historic Downtown Pella for guests to admire .
Other safety guidelines will include added space between food vendors to ensure distance between lines , hand sanitizing stations , limited grandstand seating , masks in certain areas and monitoring the size of the crowd .
“ Since the festival was canceled last year , it was our top priority to figure out how we could make it happen this year ,” says Billie Rhamy , Tulip Time Steering Committee member . “ We had conversations every month about what we can do to make this happen . How can
we make this happen for our town , for our visitors and keep people as safe as possible while also having fun .”
2020 marked the second year the festival has ever been canceled in Pella ’ s history , the first being in 1946 to help raise money for the post-war Netherlands . The festival can attract 150,000 to 175,000 visitors a year , bringing in an estimated $ 5 million in revenue for Pella businesses . Pella Historical Society and Museums lost about $ 250,000 in revenue alone because of the festival ’ s cancellation .
“ It was very disappointing when we had to cancel the festival last year , but it was obviously very important ,” says Cyndi Atkins , Tulip Time Steering Committee member . “ Hindsight is wonderful , but it was also hard .”
Atkins says she doesn ’ t expect a record turnout for visitors this year , but she is excited to get back to “ a semblance of normalcy .”
“ I keep calling this the light at the end of the tunnel ,” says Atkins . “ It ’ s good for all of us to be able to start seeing the world return to a semblance of normalcy .”
But , that semblance of normalcy wouldn ’ t be possible without the festivals dedicated volunteers .
“ I feel so thankful for our volunteers ,” says Rhamy . “ I do every year . But this year , it ’ s taking a few more people than usual , and they ’ re taking the time out of their day , their week , their month , to go above and beyond to make sure the festival happens this year . There ’ s a lot of civic pride that goes into this , and it ’ s so neat to see .”
22 Tulip Time 2021