Get Ready for the Volksparade at Tulip Time 2010

Special thanks to guest blogger, Dave Lorenz for this post on the Volksparade at the Tulip Time Festival.

Tulip TimeIt’s a beautiful day in Holland! Perfect weather to welcome bus-loads of fans to Holland’s annual Tulip Time Festival.

I’m here today, preparing to emcee the Tulip Time luncheon, which is one of the community highlights during festival week. The luncheon on Wednesday is the kick-off to the Volksparade, where for over 80-years, the community has kept tradition by scrubbing the streets clean, just prior to the parade. Hundreds of Dutch-costumed townspeople carry brooms and buckets of water to literally scrub the streets…then dozens of bands follow with floats and the always popular Exhibition Dutch Dance groups “Klomping” along the route in wooden shoes. It’s a great honor and lots of fun to scrub the streets and to see so many people coming together to show their community pride.

This is Pure Michigan, at its finest!

Dave Lorenz is the spokesperson for Travel Michigan.

Something Old, Something New at Holland’s 2010 Tulip Time Festival

Jen Wilson, Michigan Travel Ideas contributing writer, shares experiences from a trip to Holland, home of the annual Tulip Time Festival.

A trip to Holland is not complete without taking in the 110,000 tulips at Windmill Island Gardens.

Like many other travelers, I arrived in the southwest Michigan coastal town of Holland expecting two things: wooden shoes and windmills. The tidily landscaped, downtown-centric city 186 miles west of Detroit delivers both.

Celebrating Holland’s Dutch culture

Holland thrives as a tourism destination because it’s more than a one-note blast from the past. Named for the home country of founder Rev. Albertus Van Raalte and his pious followers, Holland’s imported windmill, historic Dutch village and museums deliver Dutch history, complete with wooden shoes and Delft pottery. Millions of tulips bloom each May during the popular Tulip Time Festival.

But the founders’ strongest legacy appears to be a close-knit community that feels much smaller than its 35,000 population. Holland is a modern village built on the banks of Lake Macatawa, which meets Lake Michigan at Holland State Park, a beach area with a wooden lighthouse lovingly called Big Red by locals since the Coast Guard gave it its classic barn color in 1956.

Something for everyone

Holland is flat-out pretty and hospitable, especially when it’s ramping up for tourist season each spring. Bulbs planted fresh every fall bloom along city streets and a residential historic district. Nelis’ Dutch Village opens then, too, on the outskirts of town, with Dutch buildings, miniature canals and cheese- and shoe-making demonstrations. Nearby Veldheer Gardens blooms 50 million tulips strong.

A Holland businessman imported this authentic 12-story windmill from Netherlands in 1961

One of the best tourism stops is Windmill Island Gardens, with a carousel and simulated Dutch village. Its imported 12-story windmill is home to the nation’s first Dutch-certified female miller. A family passing through from Leusden, Holland, gives it the thumbs up.

But the most fun memorial to the ingenuity and hard work of Holland’s settlers is in the spirit of downtown. Renovated historic buildings deliver an updated version of the old-fashioned main street, with clothing boutiques, bookstores, coffee shops, a brew pub, restaurants and bars.

“Downtown Holland has had so much love and energy poured into it,” says Ruth James. The New York transplant came for Holland’s Hope College and stayed for scenery. “The fact that we can have shops like this is miraculous. It’s a testimony to the fact that we’re a true community.”

Travel Guide

Tulip Time Festival begins May 1 and runs through May 8. The festival centers around Holland’s Centennial Park and features three parades, concerts and theater, Dutch food, trolley tours and traditional Dutch dancers.

Holland feels a lot smaller than it actually is, because downtown’s inner ring is complete in and of itself with shopping, dining, tourist stops and two hotels. The majority of the vacation can be taken on foot.

As a travel and features writer for the past 12 years, Jen Wilson has worked for magazines such as Midwest Living, National Geographic Traveler, Frommer’s Budget Travel, AAA Living and many others.

Pure Michigan Blossom and Mushroom Events

With the arrival of spring, it’s time to enjoy blossom and mushroom season.  How better to celebrate the coming of spring than attending a Pure Michigan Event.

Blossomtime Festival, Benton Harbor/St. Joseph, April 25-May 1, 2010

Since 1906, the southwest corner of Michigan has heralded spring with the Blessing of the Blossoms and a multi-community celebration of the local agricultural heritage and its orchards, vineyards and farms. The spectacular Grand Floral Parade features flower-bedecked floats that travel between the neighboring cities of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor.

Tulip Time Festival
May 1-8, 2010

This springtime celebration of the area’s Dutch heritage and culture is more than 80 years old, and features over six million blooming tulips and multiple parades, concerts, Dutch Marktplaats, wooden-shoed dancers, traditional street scrubbers, food and crafts, entertainment, carnival rides and kiddie activities.

51st Mesick Mushroom Festival, Mesick, May 7-9, 2010

The “Mushroom Capital of the U.S.” celebrates the morel mushroom with a carnival, sports competitions, entertainment, and Grand Parade.

Morel Mushroom Festival, Lewiston, May 8, 2010

Search for the elusive morel on a guided mushroom hunt, sample the delicacy at a mushroom tasting, browse the arts & crafts show, and enjoy the Mother’s Day Poetry Contest.

50th National Morel Mushroom Festival, Boyne City, May 13-16, 2010

This fun-filled festival is the ultimate signal that spring is here….Carnival, Mushroom Hunting, Cooking Demonstrations and lots of Morels! Come share in the fun and bring your appetite. Find out why for 50 years this has been a favorite springtime event for locals and visitors alike.

Blossom Days
Traverse City, May 15-16, 2010

Welcome spring as the cherry blossoms bloom on a self-guided tour to sample unreleased wines at the 7 Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula.

52nd Jackson County Rose Festival
Jackson, June 5-6, 2010

The Jackson County Rose Festival celebrates with the annual Rose Parade and family events in the Jackson community. The parade starts at 1pm in downtown Jackson and the Party in the Park immediately follows at Ella Sharp Park on Fourth St. Activities include a chicken BBQ, family style entertainment, kids activities, Ella Sharp Museum activities, the Softball Tournament of Roses and more. 

61st Annual Lilac, Festival Mackinac Island, June 11-20, 2010

Fragrant signs of the season are the reason for walking tours, talks, athletic, Dog and Pony events and one of the largest all-hitch parades in the nation.