87th annual Tulip Time

A child admires tulips at the 87th annual Tulip Time Festival in May 2022. 

Whether you’re a native that’s moved away, a current resident or simply interested in Dutch history, the Pella community will come “together in gezellig” for the 175th anniversary of its founding.

Pella Historical Society and Museums, Pella Wellness Consortium and Visit Pella are partnering to host three activities Aug. 4-6 to celebrate the community’s birthday.

Often translated as “cozy” or “comfort” in English, “gezellig” is a Dutch word that indicates the feeling of home or belonging — and that’s exactly what this upcoming celebration is all about.

“We really wanted to find something that applies to or excites a whole variety of people of various ages, different backgrounds and interests,” says Teri Vos, board member of the Pella Wellness Consortium and Visit Pella.

“This community, this region and even Iowa is a place for everyone … The fact that we can all enjoy the same place as home is pretty exceptional,” Vos adds. “We too often hear of people not wanting to come back home, but I think that Pella, even Iowa, is a place that people enjoy coming back to … Everybody’s coming home or a place that feels like home.”

Beginning Thursday at noon, the Pella Wellness Consortium will lead a book discussion as part of the group’s Common Reading Experience at Scholte Gardens. PWC is a local group that “drives and encourages collaborative work to implement innovative and sustainable strategies to achieve ultimate health and well-being for all ages.”

“We know that community adds to a person’s well-being … How can we uplift the community and involve people of this community and surrounding to join together and really feel that sense of community as it relates to bettering ourselves and being healthier and well?” Vos says.

The community is invited to read a selection of book chapters and essays that focus on the concept of “gezellig.” Chosen excerpts are from “The Atlas of Happiness,” “The Globetrotter’s Guide to Happiness,” “Dutch Feast,” and “Why the Dutch are Different.” Interested participants can pick up a reading packet at Pella Historical or the Pella Public Library prior to the event.

At 6:15 p.m., PWC will lead an intergenerational panel at the Pella Historical Village to promote community, connection, relationships and social interaction among panelists and attendees. Panelists Jessi Vos, Raymond Klok and Milly Vande Kieft represent different generations of Pella.

“They will talk about Pella and either why they stayed or are homecoming to or what their experience is with [Pella],” says Kristi Leonard, PWC member. “What is it that they’ve enjoyed about Pella? What do they wish other people knew about Pella? What would they potentially change about Pella? But it’s really all about the positive aspects of the community, why they enjoy it and what they’ve gotten out of it.”

Dutch hors d'oeuvres and drinks will be served, and the event will be capped at 50 participants ages 21-plus. Tickets can be found at Pella Historical, and attendees can pick up four at a time.

On Friday, a Scholte Day Proclamation will be held at 12:30 p.m. at Scholte Gardens. The proclamation will celebrate Pella’s history. Scholte House will be open with free admission from 1-4 p.m

“This is a great time to visit if you haven’t before and is a great time to return because we’ll have very knowledgeable volunteers in each room answering questions about the family and the rooms. We will also have the Dominie and Maria [Scholte] themselves there, so that’s a great chance to chat with them as well,” says Jessi Vos, assistant director of Pella Historical Society and Museums.

The Tuttle Cabin and Learning Walkway, located on Lincoln Street, will also be open to the public from 1-4 p.m. Local businesses will be open from 4-8 p.m. with special shopping deals, including the chance to earn $500 in Pella Bucks.

“They [businesses] really want to have people come into their establishments to shop,” says Ann Frost, executive director of Visit Pella. “There are also some businesses and eating establishments that will have 175 specials … It’s really fun to see all of these different places get behind the 175 [years] and do Dutch treats and themes.”

On Saturday, Pella Historical will host its annual Kermis festival with a focus on history and 175 years of Pella. Kermis is a children’s festival that includes games, prizes, snacks and more in the Historical Village. The festival is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for $1 admission (members and children under four are free), and tours of the museum will be available at no additional cost. Tuttle Cabin and Learning Walkway will be open again from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Frost, Leonard and the Vos’s want those who live outside the community to know that they too are welcomed and encouraged to spend a day (or the entire weekend) in Pella.

“I think the communities [Pella and Oskaloosa] are more connected and the same than what people realize when it comes to history and families. Some people live in Osky, some people live in Pella, but there’s a connection,” Frost says. “I think we need to look at these communities as supporting one another, and I think it’d be great if Oskaloosa people came to Pella to help support this event and celebrate.”

For more information about events and ticket availability, visit facebook.com/visitpella/events.

Emily Hawk is the associate editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. She can be reached at ehawk@oskyherald.com.

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