FULTON, Ill. — Thousands of guests lined the streets on Saturday to watch a piece of history unfold as the city of Fulton celebrated 40 years of the Dutch Days festival.
With 70 degree weather and an ample amount of sunshine, the tulips opened up in what organizers called the perfect day to celebrate the annual tradition.
Dutch Days Chairwoman Barb Mask announced that this year’s festival would be her last in a position of leadership, adding that it was the best way to end her nearly 40-year reign as committee chairwoman.
”Everything was perfect,” Mask said. “I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Not only did the weekend celebration mark the end of an era for Mask, it also commemorated four decades of long-standing tradition in the small, Dutch town.
Even though many of the city’s current residents are no longer predominately Dutch, the festival has become more than honoring that heritage and instead has become an opportunity for the community to come together to praise one another.
“If you look at the group of people who plan this event and look at the people who attend, many are not even Dutch,” Mask said. “So as the years have gone on it’s become less of a Dutch thing and more of a Fulton thing that showcases the great community effort behind all of it.”
The festival itself draws more than just Fulton residents. Saturday’s sunshine drove more than 12,000 people to Fulton, some traveling from as far as Chicago and parts of Wisconsin to take part in the annual two-day event.
It piques the interest of people in the neighboring communities as well.
Clinton resident Nathan Eslick has attended the last four Dutch Days events with his family and doesn’t plan on ending the tradition any time soon.