Tiptoe Thru the Tulips... -Sara

Ah, it's that time of year again on the West Coast of Michigan.... all the snows have melted away (usually) and the queen of spring bulbs makes her grand appearance for the annual Tulip Time Festival held in Holland, MI. It all kicks off tomorrow night with over 700 Dutch Dancers klompen dancing in a park by Lake Macatawa, followed by a fireworks display. And lots of food too! I missed the elephant ears last year and don't plan to make that mistake again!

So I thought I'd share some pictures of yours truly dressed up in my Dutch costume when I danced in high school. Because not many guys opted for this extra-curricular activity, my 5'8" stature (and short Polish partner) meant I ended up being the Dutch guy in this pair. No jokes about cross dressing please. (It was at this time I met Steve, so if he stuck around for this piece of work, it couldn't have been that bad of a costume!)

My costume is from the province of Urk, on the seashore. Urk guys usually were fishermen, thus the high-wader pants. They tied their wedding rings onto their scarves for security. I'm not sure where the stylish hat fits into fishing life, but bows in front or back was my only option. There were 3 or 4 stripe patterns to choose from for the shirt. And yes, I'm wearing 8 pairs of black knee socks to cusion my feet in those hand-carved clogs. All costumes are hand sewn (thanks Mom!) and must pass a rigorous inspection to make sure they're up to snuff. Forget one part of your costume or wear it incorrectly and you can't dance in public!

Here's my partner, Megan, in her Middlebury costume. She had to wear gold wire coils called kissers under her multi-layered starched lace hat. The coils stuck out from the sides of her head and supposedly a gal would hang jewels off them to show her family's wealth (and attract suitors). She also wears a petticoat and apron with her black skirt, which got to be quite heavy after doing 25 minutes of high kicks throughout the dance!

The dance itself it done in groups of 6 couples. There are three parts, including a waltz and some fancy windmill and star formations. Dancers start learning the routine in January with weekly practices until May. Five or six area high schools supply the hundreds of dancers (each paying for their own costume and shoes!!). Many alumni dancers participate as well. I think I read there will be around 1800 dancers this year. Pretty impressive when you see about 800 clomping all at once around one city block-sized park. And a few wooden shoes have been known to get kicked off and go flying into the crowds (or split in two while dancing).

Next week our family plans on taking in some of the events which include a Town Crier competition, the Queen's Cavalrie military drills on the shores of Lake Michigan, and of course plenty of grease vendors, er, I mean food stands including plenty of the famous Dutch Fat Balls. So I leave you with a photo of our own Dutch fat ball, daughter Grace, in her Dutch costume and wee wooden clogs, taken 5 years ago:


  1. That seems like just yesterday, Sara! My, how time flies! Thanks for bringing back the memories! Makes me wish I could be there to eat an elephant ear with you!


  2. Terri-
    I'll eat one for you and one for me! Ha!


  3. Hi Sara
    I read your experiences as a klompendancer. Do you have any photos of broken or lost clogs?
    I am from Holland Europe and collect everything that has to do with klompen

    kind regards