HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Tulip Time, the organization responsible for planning the famous festival in Holland, says it needs $1 million to survive.
This year’s festival was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the organization said it had already spent $770,000 preparing that it can’t get back. It also had to refund $400,000 in ticket sales.
Tulip Time says it knows $1 million is a lot of money, but that it’s worth it considering the festival’s economic impact. It says it brings in $48 million annually in spending at Holland hotels, restaurants and shops.
Local business owners who benefit from that economic boost were shocked to hear the news.
“We rely on it,” Penny Doan, store manager of Harbor Wear, said. “It helps us get through the winter when things are a little slower so it’s devastating if it can’t continue.”
Sophia Leongas, who owns The Curragh Irish Pub downtown, had a similar reaction.
“It’s the biggest 10 days of our year,” she said. “Seeing Tulip Time go would really a hardship for us.”
While the organization needs to raise $1 million by next year, it needs about $575,000 by August to cover pending expenses. Organizers have been applying for grants and loans, launched a GoFundMe page that has raised a little more than $16,000 and received $10,000 in other donations.
Tulip Time executive director Gwen Auwerda said even if the group is successful in raising all the money, next year’s festival would like quite different.
“We’re looking at a bit of a back to basics,” she said. “It’s a celebration of Holland, tulips, Dutch heritage and our community today, so we’ll use that kind of as a gauge of what we can do.”
—News 8’s Jacqueline Francis contributed to this report.