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Stem Festival

June 12, 2012

I went home to Iowa a few weekends ago. Isn’t it funny that, though I haven’t lived in Orange City for about 9 years, I still call it going  home? I guess home is, and always will be, where my Mom and Dad live. 🙂  John had to stay in the cities to take his final round of his board exams, but Erica and I drove to Iowa and were able to celebrate my hometown’s annual Tulip Festival. As a background, the population of  Orange City is VERY Dutch (my family included) and is quite proud of that heritage. There are windmills throughout town, dutch fronts on many of the businesses, and wooden shoes and delft everywhere. The Tulip Festival is basically a big Dutch celebration, with Dutch costumes, foods, and traditions.

Before we lived in Orange City, my family still drove there just about every year to celebrate the Tulip Festival with my grandparents, so the festival has been a tradition for my family since I was very young. I hadn’t been able to make it to the festival the last few years due to conflicts, so I was excited to get into the Dutch spirit this year! Unfortunately, because of the unseasonably warm weather this year, the tulips had long since passed, leaving just beds of tulip stems. When that happens, locals call it a “stem festival.”  Here are a few photos of my funny little town.

Elementary school students play dutch games before each of the twice daily parades.

Then there is the street scrubbing. The boys and men pour buckets of water on the streets (and on each other, on hot days like that one!)

Followed by the women and girls pushing brooms, “scrubbing” the streets. We Dutchmen like it clean!

Then the parade! Featuring, of course, my high school band, who march in Dutch costumes and wooden shoes. So many wonderful memories!

And many Dutch-themed floats. Here’s just a few.

I was able to meet up with a great high school friend, Amber, for the parade. Amber was my first friend when I moved to Orange City, and still a very dear friend to me!

We also met up with my grandparents for snert (pea soup), saucijzes (pigs in a blanket), and pie. I had my favorite Dutch treat, poffertjes (mini pancakes in rum butter) earlier in the day.

We finished the day watching my lovely mother perform as Mrs. Eynsford-Hill in My Fair Lady. Doesn’t she rock that ascot hat?

We may not be the biggest Tulip Festival out there (Pella, IA and Holland, MI beat us for sure), but our festival is so authentic and fun. I’m so glad I was able to make it to the Festival this year.

A parting shot of my hometown!

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