The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Local News

May 7, 2012

Great crowd turns out for Dutch Days

FULTON, Ill. — All things Dutch were featured this weekend as the 38th Annual Dutch Days  in Fulton, Ill., was in full swing with Dutch costumes, pastries, dancing and more.

This year the main focus was on the traditional Dutch costumes.

“We decided to take the focus away from the tulips, since we didn’t want to rely on the uncertainty of them blooming,” Dutch Days President Barb Mask said. “ This year we decided to put more emphasis on the costumes.”

Dutch Days offers a wide variety of events, many that feature the costumes.

Costumes were emphasized throughout the weekend with a Dutch costume presentation at the Masonic Lodge, a Dutch costume fashion show and a parade full of people wearing the traditional costumes.

Dutch dancers wore the costumes along with street scrubbers and many people working at several different venues. The parade of provinces, part of the Dutch Days parade, showcased costumes from various regions of the Netherlands.

“There are many great things at Dutch Days, but the best part is the costumes,” Mask said.

Dutch Days would not be brimming with these unique costumes without the hard work of Kathy Bielema and Trudy Feldt. The two have been making costumes for the event for over a decade. While they received help from other seamstresses in the past, such as Margie Vogel and Alice Sikkema, this year they are on their own. Bielema, who has a degree in textiles, enjoys making a variety of elaborate costumes for the fashion show and parade. Feldt, a retired schoolteacher, has been sewing for most of her life and makes the costumes for the dancers.

From stippling to hindeloopen, Bielema and Feldt have done their research to ensure outfits are as authentic as possible. All the costumes are made up of several pieces, so the process of making them can be very time-consuming and meticulous. Every costume has a hat, overwrap and underwrap and apron.

One of the hardest parts of making the costumes is finding the right materials, according to the two women. With patterns virtually non-existent, the two have their work cut out for them.

“I have my stockpile of fabrics, but I like the challenge of finding the materials,” Bielema said.

There are some patterns for costumes in Holland, Mich., but they are very limited, according to Feldt. The two seamstresses have to be inventive and piece together costumes by using other patterns.

“We use a combination of other patterns to make the costumes,” Feldt said. “Patterns for prom dresses, aprons, shirts and blouses. You have to be creative to make it work.”

While this year’s Dutch Days has come to a close, Bielema and Feldt are sure to begin their work long before the next festival. The two will be busy making sure that the streets remain full of people in traditional Dutch costumes during Dutch Days for years to come.

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