HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — The annual Tulip Time Festival has been canceled due to concerns about coronavirus.
Tulip Time cited a volunteer base primarily made up of those most vulnerable to contracting serious cases of COVID-19 — older people — and said about 45% of its guests are part of that vulnerable group, too. The organization also noted there are two retirement homes in downtown Holland, where the festival is held.
“It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we share this news. Our team has spent the last 11 months planning our 91st celebration and we are heartbroken not to see our work come into fruition,” festival Executive Director Gwen Auwerda said in a Monday statement.
The move will result in staffing changes within the Tulip Time organization itself.
Tulip Time says it attracts some 500,000 visitors annually.
“The festival has a $48 million impact to our local businesses,” Auwerda told News 8 Monday afternoon. “Restaurants hotels, stores downtown, the attractions, it’s going to have an impact on them. Many restaurants say to me that’s one of their busiest weeks of the year and that helps them sustain themselves in the other times of year.”
This year’s event was scheduled to be held May 2 through May 10. Tulip Time is offering refunds to those who have tickets, but is also asking people to consider donating the expenditure to the organization, which is trying to sort through how to navigate the cancellation in preparation for next year’s festival.
“We really felt with the safety of all the visitors, our community and the staff, the best decision in light of the CDC guidelines was to cancel the festival at this point,” Auwerda said. “We will move ahead and plan for 2021.”
“We’re a community that works together,” Holland Mayor Nathan Bocks told News 8. “We are all going to work together to build Tulip Time back up again.
Holland’s famous tulips should reach peak bloom between April 22 and April 29. If you go see them, you’ll find more hand-washing stations in the downtown area.