Northwest Iowa Town To Celebrate Dutch Roots With 79th Annual Tulip Festival

May 15, 2019

A northwest Iowa town will bloom with Dutch heritage starting Thursday as people celebrate the 79th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City.

In the 1930s, some Dutch immigrants missed their homeland, so they celebrated their heritage with a small flower show. The show has since blossomed into a three-day festival. It’s a citywide tradition celebrating Dutch roots with dancing, a parade, and tens of thousands of tulips blooming around Orange City.

Cassie Baker is in charge of promotions for the festival. She says more than 30,000 tulip bulbs were planted in the fall, and they seem to be faring pretty well.

“Some of our tulip beds are fully bloomed and some, we hope, are just waiting for the perfect couple sunny days,” Baker said, “and so we’re ready for the festival.”

The tulips, Baker said, add a lot of color to the town: Red, purple, orange and more.

The festival is traditionally celebrated during the third weekend of May. Orange City’s population of 6,000 welcomes over 100,000 people who come to pay tribute to and experience Dutch culture. Baker herself is Dutch.

“There is a special spot in all of our hearts when you grow up doing something and it’s something passed onto generations,” Baker said. “And yet, we can welcome new people in and we have costumes and jobs for anyone ... and we just love to welcome visitors too that just want to come and be Dutch for a day.”

Each day of the festival will have a parade, which is preceded by street scrubbing, a Dutch tradition and popular Tulip Festival event where people use brooms to clean the streets.

“The Dutch are known for their cleanliness. There’s no clean quite like Dutch clean. We often hear that,” Baker said.

The Orange City Tulip Festival runs through Saturday, May 18.