HOLLAND, Michigan — For the first time in 91 years, there was no Tulip Time Festival in Holland this spring. It was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In June, organizers realized they would need financial help to make the 2021 festival happen. They set a goal of $1 million for a fundraising campaign.
Now, a few months into the campaign, they are within ten percent of that goal. They are looking to raise $100,000 more. That money was raised through their GoFundMe page and philanthropic donors.
"When we canceled in mid-March, we ended with more refunds that needed to happen than what we had in our bank account, which was really a scary thought for us," said Gwen Auwerda, executive director of Tulip Time.
They applied for federal aid, which helped them with those refunds and money lost from canceling the 2020 festival. However, Auwerda said without the fundraising campaign, they would have run out of money in August and wouldn't have anything left for 2021.
Auwerda said they are planning for 2021's festival but that it's a tricky task. Currently, they have three different plans in mind, and could develop more. That's due to what the state of the pandemic and what executive orders are still in place by next Spring.
"We still don’t know what we can actually plan for 2021," said Auwerda. "We’re planning our outdoor events right now, we feel that is a safe bet to plan for, but how many people can we put in one place is still an unknown for next May."
She is thankful for the community's support to make the festival possible. Tulip Time celebrates Dutch heritage and the community of Holland. In 2018, Auwerda said an economic impact study found the festival brings in $48 million each year for the community. That's through visitors spending money at restaurants, retail shops and more.
The last 10%, the $100,000, would be "the icing on the cake," for 2021's event.
"We have enough to get started in a minimal way, but if we had that extra $100,000, we can go beyond what we think we can minimally plan," said Auwerda. "The festival will look very different than in previous years, but it would be icing on the cake for a few things we have in our pocket for next year."
To visit Tulip Time's GoFundMe page and donate, click here.
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