Pella, Iowa's Tulip Festival PDF Print E-mail
Family Travels

  Pella, Iowa’s Tulip Festival

 Scheduled on the first full weekend in May each year, this festival is simply a must for every family. As you enter the city, hundreds of thousands of blooming tulips line the streets, adorn the city gardens, and dot the residents’ lawns. As if this were not enough, the whole town is dressed for the occasion with thousands of Pella’s fathers, mothers, and children in Dutch costumes. Performing in the parade, dancing along the canal, walking along the peaceful streets, and guiding the tourists through the historical settings, these families are proud of their Dutch Reformed heritage and anxious to spread Christ’s love to all who enter their city. In all our traveling, we have never visited a city that exemplified such Christian virtues.

As you will remember from the September/October 2004 newsletter, we contrasted the stark differences between our trip West (whose roots were planted by fortune seekers in rebellion to God, where rebellion to God still exists today) to Pella, Iowa (whose roots were planted by Dutch Reformers whose explicit purpose was to settle their families in a land where they could worship God freely). The settlers’ godly fruit is still evident in Pella’s residents today. Like a citadel set upon a hill, this city is truly a beacon of godly light.

When we attended the Tulip Festival Parade, where thousands were in attendance from all parts of the world, they opened in prayer with thanks to Jesus Christ for their religious freedom and then shared the history of their Christian heritage. The Tulip Queen and all the ladies of her entourage were escorted on stage by their fathers, not their boyfriends. Both the Christian and public school bands played in the parade, and yet throughout the entire event, we did not see one pierced eyebrow or lip, no tattoos, no flesh hanging out, no wild haircuts, no drinking, and no smoking.

All the residents were friendly and polite. On the playground we saw countless fathers playing with their children. Families walked at night on the streets, as we were told that crime does not exist there. And when we visited the Pella Corporation, we read that all their employees combined missed less than one day of work a year. But best of all was the Dutch worship service that we attended at the First Reformed Church, given by an immigrant from Holland, who actually gave part of the service in Dutch.

After studying the Dutch Reformation and realizing how many godly men gave their lives so that the Christian Dutch people could worship God freely, what a privilege it was to attend a Dutch Reformation worship service, which was part of the celebration of their Christian heritage. To think that we were able to worship with those Dutch Reformers’ descendants 400 years later, all because their forefathers faithfully sacrificed everything so that their descendants could worship their Lord Jesus Christ. This was the fruit of the roots that those men planted so long ago.

To learn more about the Dutch, we toured their Historical Village, comprised of twenty-four Dutch buildings surrounding a courtyard where artisans were busy reenacting life in a Dutch village—men carving yokes to carry pails of water, carving Klompens (wooden shoes), weaving ropes … but most interesting of all was the 124-foot Vermeer Windmill. Built by a third generation Netherlands mill maker in Holland, this structure was disassembled, shipped to America, and then reassembled on its present location. The tour of this working grain mill was fascinating and extremely informative, and when the guides found out that we were homeschoolers and interested in further information, they were happy to spend more time with us. This was also true of our tour guide at the Scholte House. After the house tour, she brought us into her own living quarters for a visit. Afterwards we spent a lovely time in the beautiful tulip garden behind the house, which displayed 28,000 tulips in bloom.

The Tulip Festival Parade is a full 75 minutes of entertainment including Dutch dancers, street scrubbers, cheese races, adorable floats, and a display of costumes from the different regions of the Netherlands. In the Molengracht Plaza with its charming working drawbridge, winding canal, brick walks, and Dutch architecture, Dutch families entertained us with their Klompen dances. All of these activities, along with a one-hour narrated tour of Pella’s landmarks, are included in a tour package costing $22 for each adult and $11 for each child. However, these must be purchased by April 30. For more information, visit or call 641-628-4311.

Although the festivities begin on Thursday, May 5, we would recommend going up a day earlier (as we did) to avoid the crowds. That way we were able to become acquainted with the city before the day of the parade and were actually able to use our tickets to tour the village and the Scholte house, which saved us standing in line the next day.

From St. Louis, we went west on Hwy. 70 to Columbia and then took Hwy. 63 north to Pella. The drive was gorgeous with beautiful farmland on both sides of the highway for most of the trip.