Going Dutch

CLYMER – Clymer celebrates its Dutch heritage every other May with its Tulip Festival. This week, street brooms and wooden shoes are being readied for the event, which starts on Thursday.

The Tulip Festival is Clymer’s signature biannual spring event featuring traditions rooted in the town’s rich Dutch heritage. This year, more vendors have been offered space and a host of events are scheduled including a grand parade, a 5k run, and demonstrations and activities designed for people of all ages.

Organizer Shelly Schenck said the planning committee is excited to introduce the new “Vendor Fair” this year, with an expanded lineup of vendors located at the lower level of the fire hall on Main Street.

The spring celebration kicks off with the kinder-parade Thursday at 6:30 p.m. The parade gives school children the chance to decorate their bicycles, wagons, trikes and other items and have a parade of their own. The kinder-parade will start in the school parking lot and proceed down Main Street, up Clymer-Sherman Road to Freeman Street and then back to the school parking lot.

Friday evening, the Tulip Queen crowning will take place at the Clymer Central School Performance Center at 7:30 p.m. with the Sauerkraut Social and flare lighting event taking place immediately following at Clymer Town Park. Admission to the crowning is free, but donations are encouraged. There are seven queen candidates vying for first place and second runner up.

Runners in the Wooden Shoe Race will break the starting line at 9 a.m. on Saturday, and the rest of the day a host of activities will take place ending with a variety show at Clymer Central School Performance Center at 7 p.m. As always, Saturday will host the added excitement of children’s activities, craft vendors, food and dance performances. Other activities include a tractor pull, a craft bazaar, an auction, and an antique tractor display, and the always popular “Kid Zone” featuring bounce houses and carnival games.

Austin White will demonstrate his chainsaw creations beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Perhaps the biggest attraction each year is the parade and the traditional way in which it begins.

Costumed children and adults wearing wooden shoes kick off the parade by washing the streets with water, brooms and pails to get the route ready.

The tradition of street scrubbing is attributed to the Dutch, who tidied up the streets of their towns after a long winter.

The Dutch began arriving in Clymer in 1844. The festival originated in 1953 and is now held every other year. At its peak in the 1970s, people from all over the world came to Clymer for the festival.

According to organizers, close to 1,000 people came to the Tulip Festival in 2012.

“We look forward to seeing the young and the young at heart dressed in traditional costume to celebrate Clymer’s Dutch heritage,” Schenck said.

For more information, search for “Clymer Tulip Festival” on Facebook or call Shelly Schenck at 355-2776. Events for the festival will be held at several locations in Clymer including the Clymer Central School Student Performance Center and in multiple locations on or near Main Street.