Guest Author - Megan Romer
The Albany Tulip Festival is an annual celebration of Albany's Dutch heritage and history. Each year, over 200,000 tulips are planted to bloom just in time for Mother's Day, and the festival weekend includes outdoor concerts, delicious food vendors, the crowning of a tulip queen, and of course, flowers galore!
Albany is America's oldest permanent Dutch settlement. A major part of Dutch history is the tulip trade, and they are considered the Dutch national flower and a major symbol for the Dutch city. Therefore, it seemed sensible to connect the Albany area with their Dutch heritage using tulips.
In 1948, Mayor Erastus Corning of Albany passed a resolution to make the tulip the official flower of the city, and also sent a request to Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands to request that a strain of tulip be named after the city. The Dutch Queen complied, and the connection was solidified. To celebrate, the city threw a festival, and it has done so for the last 60 years.
The 2009 Albany Tulip Festival will take place on May 8 through May 10. Most of the weekend's activities will take place in Washington Park. On the menu includes a weekend of wonderful musical performances, delicious food vendors, a craft fair, and a "wellness garden," where festivalgoers can learn about health, nutrition, and the environment.
The festival kicks off on Friday, when the "street scrubbing" tradition takes place. This is an old Dutch custom that takes place before many festivals in the Netherlands.
During the festival, hundreds of thousands of tulips will be everywhere - pretty much on any surface that will stand still, and it's the flowers that are the focal point of the festival.
On Saturday afternoon, the Albany Tulip Queen will be crowned. The Tulip Queen is a young Albany woman who, when she gets her crown, will become an official ambassador of the current mayor's literacy program. She'll also receive some scholarship money.
For more information, visit the official Albany Tulip Festival website.