We saw wooden shoes everywhere in Holland. When we went out to the Veldheer Tulip Farm, we went in the Deklomp Wooden Shoe Factory where we could stand at a glass window and watch wooden shoes being carved by a large machine. It was quite incredible. We also found out from some of the locals that when they wear these wooden shoes, they also wear 4-5 pairs of socks to cushion their feet so it makes them look like they have huge ankles and feet. There were many places in Holland where you could buy wooden shoes.
We had learned about Delftware at the museum. Delft tiles came from Italy. But then the Dutch copied Chinese blue and white ware but they didn't have the kaolin for the glaze the Chinese used so they used tin (white) for the underglaze. Because of this their blue is not as dark as the Chinese. And so the famous Dutch Delftware was formed. There are a lot of shops in Holland where you can shop for this. Also, several places show you how it is made and you can watch it being painted at Veldheer Delft Factory.
The Holland Museum is a good place to find out all about the history of Holland. The Dutch arrived in 1847. We learned there was a big public market where the park is now. There were photos of the devastating fire of 1871 which we had learned spared Pillar Church and Hope College. We also learned that in the 15th century a relationship between Italy and Flanders resulted in the Delft tiles that are now the hallmark of Holland. When we were there the Dutch ambassador was here touring the Dutch painting gallery which just opened. We came back to see it later. It has Dutch art from as early as the 15th century. I especially liked several which are of tulips.
The Volksparade is the parade held in the middle of the week. There is another one at the end of the festival on Saturday. We chose to go to this one mid-week. We sat on the curb on our jackets and watched it pass by. There were lots of local bands, flag dancers, town criers, Klompen dancers, many floats with things like windmills, tulips and cows, The Queen's Calvary, Dutch flags, Therapy dogs, and even someone dressed as Abe Lincoln. It lasts about 2 hours. I was amazed how many of the parade members were wearing wooden shoes. I can't imagine walking that far in wooden shoes.
The Dutch are known for their cleanliness. During Tulip Time there are 2 different parades on different days. Before the parade, there is a White Glove Ceremony in which the mayor comes out with white gloves on, rubs the street with them and declares that it is dirty and must be cleaned. So then a large number of adults and children , dressed in authentic Dutch clothing and wooden shoes, comes down the street with brooms and buckets of water to pour on the streets to clean them. Most of the water ended up on the streets but some was thrown at another person and as the street scrubbers advanced to the end of the parade route, the foolishness increased. We had found a place along the parade route and sat on our jackets. Most of the residents had lawn chairs. You also could rent a space in the bleachers for $4 to view both the screet scrubbing and the parade.
There are 2 historic old houses in Holland. One of them is the Settler's House which is a very small 1867 example of an early working class house. It only has 3 rooms but they are furnished in period furnishings that give a glimpse of life for the blue collar worker back in that time. Just down the street from this modest house is the Cappon House from 1873. This was the mayor's house and is very large and ornate. The original furnishings help to show life for the wealthy back at that time. It cost $10,000 which was a lot back then. Both houses have a guide who takes you through the houses and points out things which makes it very interesting. For one thing, in the mayor's house, the expensive furnishings were in the downstairs rooms for show. The parlor is very Victorian. The reason so many of the furnishings survived is that one of the 16 children (a daughter) didn't ever marry and lived in this house and kept it up until her death. Then it became a historic site. They even have the original wallpaper which has been duplicated from traces still on the walls.
You can buy a combination ticket for the museum and the 2 houses. In 2007 when we visited, it was $12.
One of the activities for Tulip Time were organ recitals performed by a variety of artists at Dimnent Memorial Chapel on Hope College Campus. This beautiful old church has 2 pipe organs. The large one (the Chancel Organ) in front was installed in 1929. The other one (the Gallery Organ) in the back was installed in 1970. Organ study is available to all students at this college no matter what their major. Organ study has always been very important here. The college has invited guest performers of international status for many years. They not only perform but also teach here. Our recital was by Peter Kurdziel who has a degree in organ from Hope college but also went to Notre Dame. He is now Director of Music Ministries at Saint Robert of Newminster Parish in Ada, MI. The recital was excellent and was on the Gallery organ in the back.
This church is at the corner of 9th and College Streets. It replaced a log cabin church built when the town was settled in 1847. It was built in 1956 by the founder of Holland, Albertus Van Raalte. It's the Greek revival style with post and beam construction like a barn. There is not a cross on the steeple as on many churches. Instead there is a copper rooster which symbolizes Peter's denial of Christ. It's commonly found on Calvinist churches in the Netherlands. The church had tours with a talk about the history during Tulip Time. They also had one authentic Dutch church service during the week. It was in the Dutch language with an English translation provided. Usually the worship service used to last from 2-3 hours but this one was only 35 minutes. One thing I found interesting too was that the church service here was done in the Dutch language until 1911.
What make's this grainery unique is that it is a windmill from the Netherlands. It's mutch the same and any grain mill that you may have seen. Oh, you've not been to a grain mill before? Then take the time to learn how flour is made from grain (wheat, oats, etc.). Otherwise, the reason to visit is the story of the dutch windmill. Tall, commanding in appearance. They dominate the skyline. To see another, you'll have to go to Europe. If you've seen the real things in low countries, then take time to go inside.
If you've never seen wooden shoes made, this is the place. They really make them, right here. If you like flowers (tulips), you'll find a lot to look at. Otherwise, a half hour a bit of shopping and you'll have witnessed a unique art of shoe making.
The Dutch Village is a nice visit, especially if you have kids. For most of us, once will be enough. The village is visible from US31 and pretty much what you see. There is traditional dutch music and shops with dutch style treats. There is plenty to do for an hour or two. If you have kids, it's a great place as you'll not have to worry for the entire time you're there. They can sleep, run, sing, and they'll have plenty of fun and safe things to do.
I'm not much of a shopper, but the stores in downtown Holland have kept much of there historic flavor. So much so that even the old bank, which has become a store, has retained the vault, which is now a display room. Just look for the tower. It's the corner store. (Home & Company).
Downtown has a mix of shops and stores, all in a pleasant well-kept historic area. Some buildings are brand new, others are finely maintained from the 19th Century. Trees line the streets, offering shade on hot days.
As one might expect, Holland takes great pride in it's Dutch heritage. Some of the sights and activities might sem a bit kitchy and overly-trouisty, but they can actually be a lot of fun. I think many of them are actually done quite nicely. I used to love the Dutch Village. They have lots of shops with handicrafts, yummy fudge, Dutch food, and fun atmosphere.
Many people don't believe me that there is a beach in Michigan - much less a very nice one that is a lot of fun to play around at. Yes, there are months of the year when it is cold, this is to be expected. But I wouldn't swim at the beach in January in Virginia, so why should Michigan be so different? In the summer months, splashing around in a huge body of water that does not sting your eyes and make you sticky like salt water, nor have things that will sting/poke/eat you is just the ticket. =)