Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
|Skagit Valley Tulip Festival|
|Date(s)||April 1–April 30|
|Location(s)||Skagit Valley, Washington|
Around 1883, George Gibbs, an immigrant from England moved to Orcas Island, where he began to grow apples and hazelnuts. Nine years later, he purchased five dollars worth of flower bulbs to grow, and when he dug them up a couple years later and saw how they had multiplied, realized the potential for bulb growing in the Puget Sound region. He contacted Dutch growers in Holland to learn about the business, only to find the Dutch to be highly secretive about their commercial practices. However, when he shipped off a few a bulbs to Holland, the impressed Dutch growers traveled to Orcas Island to see for themselves how tulips could grow outside Holland.
In 1899, Gibbs wrote to the United States Department of Agriculture regarding the commercial prospects of bulb growing in the region, and they took interest. In 1905, they sent Gibbs 15,000 imported bulbs from Holland to grow as an experiment, under a contract. The experiment was so successful that the United States Department of Agriculture established their own 10-acre test garden around Bellingham in 1908, which proved successful enough for the Bellingham Tulip Festival to begin in 1920 to showcase and celebrate the success of the bulb industry.
The Bellingham Tulip Festival was dropped in 1930, due to the Great Depression and bulb freezes in 1916, 1925, and 1929 that brought heavy losses to the growers. Subsequently, the growers moved south into Skagit County.
In 1946, William Roozen arrived to the United States, leaving behind a successful bulb growing business spanning six generations in Holland. After working on several different farms, Roozen started his own in Skagit County in 1950, and in 1955 purchased the Washington Bulb Company, making him the leader among the four flower-growing families in the area, and the Washington Bulb Company the leading grower of tulip, daffodil, and iris bulbs in North America.
With local tulip growers already showcasing their bulbs through display gardens, the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce decided in 1984 to add festivities during the bloom month as to enhance the visitor's time in the Skagit Valley. And so the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival was created.
The festival claims to be Washington's largest, with over one million visitors; at least one news source stated attendance was 350,000 for 2008. Travel + Leisure put the figure at 500,000 in 2003.
- Skagit Tulip History
- Deloris Tarzan Ament=Seattle Times (May 12, 1996), Bulb Business -- History Points To George Gibbs As The Man Who Started The Tulip Industry Here - In Whatcom, Not Skagit, County
- Putsata Reang=Seattle Times (April 7, 1998), Family Tulip Business Blooms
- RoozenGaarde - Festival of Family Farms, April 15, 2016
- History - Skagit Tulip Festival, 2016
- 28th Annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival ~ Spring 2011, Skagit Valley Tourism Group, retrieved 2011-01-16
- Sarah Jackson (March 28, 2008), Skagit Valley Tulip Festival ready to bloom, Everett Herald, retrieved 2011-01-16
- Kimberly Seely (March 2003), Weekender: Skagit Valley, Washington / For one short month each year, northwestern Washington—along with some half-million visitors—witnesses nature at its most vivid, Travel + Leisure
- Best of the Northwest awards, KING TV
- Tulipmania: the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival: official festival guidebook, 1989, ISBN 0-89087-584-7
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