Orange City, Iowa is a small town situated in the northwest corner of the state. It’s a small, rural community, but every 3rd weekend in May, the town explodes in population. People from all over the country come to celebrate with our small town and our Dutch heritage.
Tulip Festival, to me, means community and belonging. A place where everyone can fit in. To enjoy something happy and exciting—full of energy and life. Time seems to stand still. Despite all the bustle and busy, there’s something about the freedom from schedules and routine and just enjoying the moments around you.
On a short walk around Central Ave, and you’ll stumble upon the tulip-filled beds in Windmill Park, surrounded by the flags from each Dutch province. Miniature windmills and a tiny canal are fixtures on the south end of the park. The streets surrounding the park are blocked off with ropes and barricades to create a safe environment for towns people and tourists to wander and explore. Volunteer teens direct traffic through the roped off streets, making camp with pop-up tents, folding chairs, and coolers with snacks and drinks. The parade route is lined with temporary bleachers installed just for the festival. The side streets are packed with Dutch-themed activities, food stands and carnival rides.
Locals have their weekends planned out perfectly. Participating in Dutch Dancing, Marching Band, The Night Show, Dutch Dozen, Fietzen Zangers, Float Riders, and so many more volunteer positions. Staking out places close to the action to change from Dutch costume to marching band attire to street clothes for hanging out after the responsibilities are done. Pacing yourself on all the best foods so you have treats to enjoy all weekend long–vowing to eat only salad for the next week after the festival is over.
By the end of this weekend, our feet are aching, our stomachs are full, our bodies are just tired. But our spirits are soaring and our joy is overflowing. Because this is a community experience we can enjoy together.
Enjoy these mostly black and white images from the second most wonderful time of year. 🙂
Your faithful truth-teller,
If you liked this series of personal work, check out this post about my Lake Tahoe California Weekend Getaway.