Orange City Tulip Festival 2019

Festivalgoers participate in a street cleaning at the 2019 Orange City Tulip Festival. The annual celebration was cancelled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic but will return in 2021 from May 13-15.

ORANGE CITY—After a one-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, Orange City is gearing up to celebrate its 80th Tulip Festival.

The 2021 Orange City Tulip Festival is expected to welcome thousands of visitors to celebrate Orange City’s Dutch heritage May 13-15.

Orange City Chamber director Mike Hofman said plans for this year’s festival are close to normal.

“It’s as normal as it can be given the current situation,” Hofman said. “It’s what we’re striving for, just to do the things we feel we can do with everybody’s safety and protocols in mind.”

The festival will feature street performances, carnival food and rides and the twice-daily Volksparade with Dutch-themed floats and marching bands.

Other festival traditions, such as craft vendors, museum tours, street cleaning and wooden shoe carving demonstrations also are planned to return this year.

A full daily schedule of events is available on the Tulip Festival website at octulipfestival.com.

The 2020 Tulip Festival was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Before that, the last time the festival was canceled was 1942-46 during World War II. Hofman said canceling the festival “wasn’t a decision we took lightly,” but was made in light of public health guidelines to help control the spread of COVID-19.

Although festivalgoers and vendors had a year off, the Tulip Festival Executive Steering Committee used the extra 12 months to plan for a safe and celebratory festival comeback in 2021.

“We never stopped planning since March of last year and everyone is hopeful and encouraged by the current situation and hoping to be able to pull this off in an appropriate manner in May,” Hofman said.

He said the steering committee will continue talking with public health officials at the local and state level to determine what additional safety precautions should be put in place to keep guests and volunteers safe.

“Anytime you put on an event like this, the volunteers are a big part of it as are the attendees. We are talking a lot about how we can handle these events with everyone’s safety in mind, locals and those not from around here,” Hofman said.

Many of the events are outdoors, which Hofman said will hopefully make things easier to organize safely. Indoor events may have social distancing measures put in place or limited attendance.

Those determinations will be made closer to the festival and may be event specific.

“It really is a changing and fluid situation; it has been since last March,” Hofman said. “We’re still two months out from this and things are still changing very rapidly, both in the number of vaccines that are happening or being distributed and the amount of cases that we have locally.”