FULTON, Ill. — With the arrival of abundant, flourishing tulips, that means only one thing in the city of Fulton — Dutch Days has arrived.
The annual celebration has commenced the first weekend of May for 41 years, and with its arrival, it brings a tradition unmatched by any other festival in the area. This year, though, when the Dutch-rich, revelry begins May 1, there will be a few new treats for guests to enjoy.
That is the continued approach for the Dutch Days committee and chairwoman Barb Mask, who for nearly all of those 41 years has helped coordinate the event — to keep the rich history of Dutch Days intact while still offering new and appealing aspects to keep young and old guests engaged.
“One of the things we always try to do with Dutch Days is offer something new each year,” Mask said. “It’s so important that we keep the tradition of Dutch Days, but getting new activities and features introduces a new aspect that people enjoy.”
The biggest promotional effort for Mask this year has been encouraging guests to come out to the first performance by Dutch History Live! an intergenerational performance troupe out of Holland, Michigan.
For years, the Dutch Days committee has reached out to DHL to showcase its performance during a dinner theater, but has been futile in its efforts.
That was until Judy Tuinenga, troupe leader, reached out to Mask several weeks ago to inform her this was the year the two groups would finally integrate.
“I have been trying to connect with this group for years,” Mask said. “Their performance is the whole package; singing, dancing, with traditional Dutch costumes, it’s the total complete program. Judy reached out to me and said ‘we have the date open, if you’re interested’ and of course we were. I had been trying to get myself away from being chairwoman and here I am, planning all of this again, but I couldn’t say no to them. Not after all this time.”
It’s a treat Mask feels will bring the Friday night events of Dutch Days to a whole new level, setting off the event exactly how she believes it deserves to be set off.
“We have people singing, we have the costumes and the dancing, but this is putting everything together in one program,” Mask said. “It’s really an enhancement to Dutch Days having them here.”
In addition to the performance by Dutch History Live!, May 1 also will present a variety of programs, exhibits and demonstrations many visitors will recognize at Dutch Days. Included in Friday’s events will be the wooden shoe demonstration, Dutch Klompen dancing and the Dutch costume presentation at the Masonic Lodge.
Those events will lead into a full list of activities May 2, including two additional performances by Dutch History Live! at the Masonic Lodge, the Dutch costume fashion show, street scrubbing, followed by the Dutch Days parade at 3 p.m. with featured grand marshal Jean Roeder.
A full list of Dutch Days’ scheduled events can be located on the city of Fulton’s website and for additional information contact Mask or other members of the Dutch Days committee.
Clinton Herald Staff Writer Amy Kent can be contacted at email@example.com.