The Stems of Technology and Innovation at Holland's Tulip Time Festival

A look into the future of Holland, MI was on display for the Kinderparade, part of the cities annual Tulip Time Festival, on May 10th, 2012. The festival, held in a city known for its tulips and Dutch heritage, was struck with a problem; it was missing its main attraction. The cities tulips had bloomed early due to warm weather a couple months prior, but instead of looking at the missing tulips as a loss, this year’s festival was spun with the use of technology and playfully named, “stem fest.”

"I hope people have fun with it," Susan Zalnis, Tulip Time's marketing manager, told The Holland Sentinel. Jenifer Jackson, a resident of neighboring Zeeland, said,

“Using the play on words to make fun of the lost petals was smart and innovative. It was all in good spirit and kept the attraction of ‘tulips’ alive by focusing on the stems.”

T-shirts displaying the name were sold for $10 and buttons for $1. While the people of Holland embraced this years “stem fest,” Gov. Rick Snyder, who spoke at a luncheon a day prior, saw the missing tulips as a way to display the cities ability to move forward and continue to innovate during rough times.

“I saw adversity and turning it into something you can make the best of,” Snyder told a crowd of about 700 at Hope College’s DeVos Fieldhouse in Holland. “Recognizing that (the dearth of tulips) is a one-year phenomenon and realizing that we’ll be back,” The Grand Rapids Press noted.

The following day at the Kinderparade, Louann Werksma, a volunteer for the festival, stood by a Chevrolet Volt. The electric car, supplied by DeNooyer Chevrolet of Holland, was one of the vehicles used to simultaneously display Snyder’s prior words of inspiration and show the public how Holland is moving forward. “Holland has the most Advanced Energy Storage (AES) facilities in the world,” said Werksma of the use of electric cars within the Kinderparade, “The vehicles tie in well with this years festival.” Featured in the parade were electric cars by Chevrolet, Nissan, and Mitsubishi. The parade also saw Holland police officers on Segway’s equipped with flashing strobes.

Despite the lack of tulips, the festival was viewed in a different light, an inspiration of sorts or by this quote, taken by The Grand Rapids Press from Snyder saying,

“Think about it as our comeback, as part of our reinvention.”