As a Michigander by birth, I grew up with the annual Tulip Time Festival in Holland, Michigan. At one time, it was named the best small town festival in the United States. Over time it’s popularity has waned and due to the Covid-19 pandemic the event was cancelled entirely in 2020 for the first time in its history. However, I had the opportunity to attend the 2021 Tulip Time Festival and it turned out to be a fantastic year for perfect tulip blooms in the first week of May. I can’t remember a time in the last 20 years that the blooms were timed so perfectly for the festival.
Tiptoe Through the Tulips
In my younger days, I participated in the Tulip Time parade, musicals, and had dressed in a traditional Dutch costume for the event. These days, I typically only attend Tulip Time for the food and to check out the slow evolution of the town. This year, things were much different due to the pandemic, but all of the major elements were still present: food stands, a carnival, and tulips. The entrance to the carnival was by advance ticket purchase only. The tickets were timed and required attendees to vacate at the end of their time slot so the entire carnival operation could be sanitized before the next group comes in. Outside of the carnival were traditional Dutch street sweepers that would normally lead the Tulip Time parades, which were not held this year.
Tulip Time Food
I decided to skip the carnival and instead indulge over the course of two days on footlong corndogs, fried oreos, and bavarian cream filled Dutch Fatballs. I combined this enormous caloric intake with plenty of tiptoeing through the tulips too! Since this is a personal finance blog, let’s talk food prices. The footlong corndog was likely the best bargain at $6, while the fried Oreos were $5 for four pieces, and the Dutch Fatball was $6. Some other prices I saw included $7 for an elephant ear, $4 “jumbo” slices of pizza, $5 caramel corn, and $2 small bottles of water. I’d say the elephant ear is one of the worst deals since it is just a 10 cent piece of dough, pressed flat and deep fried, then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar – any other toppings are extra. The elephant ear is one of the most popular food items during Tulip Time, which may account for its high price point relative to other items, but I’ve never been much of a fan of them.
For financial and cholesterol reasons, thankfully this is not a regular occurrence and comes around just once a year. It’s important to splurge every once in a while and the Tulip Time Festival provided a great reason to do so and enjoy the sunshine and walk around town.