Unfortunately we were about three weeks too early for the festival, and there was nary a tulip to be found. We DID see some daffodils in bloom, though.
If you ever are in the area and want to see something different and lots and lots of beautiful tulips, I certainly would visit Holland, Michigan. I have been there during the tulip festival. The parade is fun to watch, especially watching the people scrub the street as they walk.
According to the Tulip Time Festival website, the festival includes three parades, traditional Dutch dance performances, concerts, theatre, Dutch attractions, Dutch food, children's events, and Tulip City Tours.
What you can see off season is Windmill Island Gardens, where the working windmill stands.
The day we visited it was overcast and hardly any visitors were in sight. We first came upon this building.
It is appropriately called the "Organ House", where, you guessed it, the organ is kept. But not just ANY organ. This organ was built in 1928 by the famous organ maker Carl Frei in the city of Breda. It was given as a gift to the city of Holland in 1947 by the city of Amsterdam out of gratitude to the U.S. for its role in liberating the Netherlands in World War II. (cited)
It used to be pulled in the parade during the Tulip Festival, but that stopped in 1960. The organ is inspected and tuned/repaired once a year. It is so specialized that the repairman comes from Europe to do the work. That is him in the left side of the photo. Yeah, the organ wasn't working when we were there.
|The 125-foot tall windmill stands on a 36 acre site.|
This windmill is called "De Zwaan", which is Dutch for "The Swan". De Zwaan was first erected in Krommenie, near Amsterdam, Noord Holland in 1761. In 1889 it was moved to Vinkel, in the province of Noord Brabant and reconstructed there. Two Holland, Michigan residents (Wichers and Brown) went on a search to bring a Dutch windmill to their town to pay homage to the city's Dutch heritage. Many of the windmills had suffered structural damage due to World War II and the Dutch government placed a ban on the sale of windmills outside of the Netherlands.Wichers gained an exemption from this ban, and was able to purchase the damaged De Zwaan for $2800. It was the last windmill to leave the Netherlands. De Zwann arrived in October 1964 and it took six month to reconstruct. Wikipedia
When you enter the windmill, there are two sets of double doors. This is so the farmer could drive his wagon in, unload, and lead his team of horses out the other doors.
The mill is five stories up. Back in the day there were no stairs like what we walked up on the tour. The miller had to climb ladders all the way to the top. So it was very inconvenient for the miller to keep climbing down if someone entered the mill. He devised a plan where he hung a wooden shoe from a rope. A person would write a note to the miller, shove it in the shoe, then pull on the rope. He would also tie his bags of grain to be lifted to the top of the mill to be ground.
Here is a close up of the shoe. Translation: Messages for the miller
One of two millstones
|photo credit: Wikipedia|
|photo credit: Holland Sentinel|
A long way up there!
Did you know that the Dutch used their windmills to send signals to their surrounding neighbors? Depending on the position of the sails (arms of the windmill) - the message would tell what was happening with the miller such as celebration/joy, mourning, or rest? Click here to read more on this topic and to see a demonstration of the different positions.
Currently De Zwaan is grounding wheat flour.
We picked up a bag from the gift shop.
So far I've made pancakes with it and they were delicious!
We walked over to "Little Netherlands".
Consisting of a large gift shop, a museum, and a concession stand.
I bought a wooden bowl and had it engraved at the gift shop. Here is the woman doing the wood-burning:
The finished product.
Afterwards I thought it may have been confusing, thinking the April 21, 1984 date was our 29th anniversary, when actually that was our wedding day. Well, as long as I know what it means, I guess it's okay!
Windmill Island Gardens also boasts having an antique carousel which was built in 1908 by DeBoer Bros. It is made of wood, and called a "kiddie machine", a European trait, because it was built for children. The animals are stationary and do not move up and down like the modern carousels.
The following photos are from this year's tulip festival. I cannot take credit for them; I got them from the internet for your viewing pleasure.
|photo credit: Huffington Post|