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Published April 2006

Tulips in the valley
Expect flowers, fun at 23rd annual Skagit festival
Photo courtesy of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
April marks the 23rd year of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, drawing as many as 400,000 visitors to view hundreds of acres of tulip fields and participate in dozens of events, art shows and other attractions.

By John Wolcott
SCBJ Editor

The month of April marks the 23rd year of celebrating the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, which now attracts as many as 400,000 people from all over the world.

Southwest of Mount Vernon, there are hundreds of acres of fertile farmland filled with thousands of bulbs sprouting a variety of colorful flowers.

This year, the tulips bloomed in time for the opening day of the festival,” said Cindy Verge, executive director of the event. “Each community in Skagit County is hosting activities this month, from a street fair in Mount Vernon and a Quilt Show in Anacortes to a Woodfest in Sedro-Woolley and the Poulsbo RV Tulip Frolic April 8 in La Conner.”

The festival brings in more than $14 million to the local Skagit Valley economy from outside sources alone, including raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities.

The local Kiwanis Club, for instance, holds its signature annual salmon barbecue during April and raises more than $60,000 to support area charitable causes.

Along with Tulip Festival events, sights in the area include the popular Skagit Casino and hotel complex north of Mount Vernon on Interstate 5, with an exit at Bow Hill Road; antique stores in Anacortes; and the attraction of restaurants, antique stores and unique retailers such as The Wood Merchant in nearby La Conner.

Some of this year’s Tulip Festival events include these activities:

  • Mountains Northwest — Pedal through the petals on a three-speed cruiser bicycle. Flat, straight roads invite a leisurely ride past numerous fields between Mount Vernon and La Conner. Call for reservations, 360-336-1645.
  • Beck & Call Senior Concierge and Travel Chauffeur — Tours of the Tulip Festival; call 360-421-4325.
  • Helicopter Tulip Fields Tours — Tour the tulip fields from a helicopter. No reservations needed. Operating from Lefeber Turf on Highway 536, 10 a.m. to dusk; 888-377-4115, operating Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through April 23.
  • Tulip Town — The Children’s Fairy Tale Dream Walk, strolling through a field display of more than 60 varieties of tulips, enjoy tulip pasture golf games or ride a trolley to see the spectacular fields. For more information, go online to www.tuliptown.com.
  • Roozengaarde — A division of Washington Bulb Co. Inc., the largest bulb grower in the United States; visit a 3-acre display garden with an authentic Dutch windmill. For more information, go online to www.tulips.com.

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival brochures and Web site also include scores of other events, activities and sights, including art shows, farm tours, produce, quilt shows, wineries, bed-and-breakfasts, museums, ceramics, nurseries and retail centers, including outlet stores in Burlington.

For more information, including brochures and maps, go online to www.tulipfestival.org, call 360-428-5959 or visit the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival office in The Grainery Antique Mall adjacent to the new Mount Vernon transit station.

Along with getting information on the festival, visitors to the antique mall can enjoy a museum, restaurant, art gallery and other stores.

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© 2006 The Daily Herald Co., Everett, WA