There will be a distinctively different look to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, which had been scheduled to celebrate its 37th year with a monthlong event starting April 1.
Instead, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the festival's wide array of events have been postponed or canceled.
Last week, Tulip Town and RoozenGaarde, the two major tulips growers for the festival, decided to close their operations to foot traffic, and RoozenGaarde is not allowing vehicle traffic either.
These are a few of the many steps that have been taken to help stem the spread of COVID-19, as organizers respond to the growing threat and follow government and health department guidelines and directives to limit the size of gatherings.
According to Cindy Verge, Tulip Festival executive director, Tulip Town is working to implement a "Tulip Safari," in which visitors can move around the fields in their vehicles.
Also in the works are photo passes for visitors. A yearly highlight of the festival is the stunning photography that results from casual visitors and professional photographers alike. (More information can be found at tuliptown.com.)
"RoozenGaarde has closed its acreage, and the gardens are closed," Verge said Monday. "It's an incredibly tough decision and it's going to have a huge impact on their business."
During a typical Tulip Festival each year, Skagit County is visited by tens of thousands of travelers, who spend a few days in the area to see the vibrant, colorful fields of flowers; visit a petting zoo; take in a live-music performance at the festival street fair in downtown Mount Vernon; imbibe with a meal of perfectly barbecued salmon; and much, much more.
A 2012 study estimated that Tulip Festival visitors spent about $54 million in Skagit County over the course of the festival.
The schedule of events has been changing since the pandemic emerged as a critical health emergency. For more information, visit tulipfestival.org.