Of Tulips & Fat Balls

Eight decades of tulips and fatballs. EIGHTY years. This is no amateur operation. This is serious stuff. It’s Tulip Time in Holland (Michigan), and when it comes to festivals, these people don’t mess around.

It would seem that the six million tulips alone would be more than enough for any small Midwestern town, but not so for Holland. They take it to the limit — right up to the edge of crazy– creating a veritable Tulipalooza. That’s why Tulip Time was named Best… CONTINUE READING >>

Fatballs! Eight
decades of tulips and fatballs. EIGHTY years. This is no amateur
operation. This is serious stuff. It’s Tulip Time in
Holland (Michigan), and when it comes to festivals, these
people don’t mess around.

It
would seem that the six million tulips
alone would be more than enough for any small Midwestern town, but
not so for

Holland. They take it to the limit — right up to the
edge of crazy — creating a veritable Tulipalooza. That’s why
Tulip Time was named Best Small Town Festival by Reader’s Digest.

It's Tulip Time in Holland Michigan!

The
eight days of festivities begin and end with a Klompen good
time. Several times a day, the Klompen Dancers don Dutch
garb and take to the streets around Centennial Park. The
sound of wooden shoes clomping on the pavement literally
fills the air. Excruciatingly thick socks are worn to fight
the friction caused by the mercilessly unyielding footwear
as well as to keep the lumber leg caps from becoming noggin
knocking missiles during the high kicking portion of the
show.

It's Tulip Time in Holland Michigan!

Hundreds
of Hollanders participate in the dancing every year, initially
with their local high school troops, then coming back time
and time again as alumni.

The
handmade patterns for the dancer’s costumes are closely
held by “Directors,” a title referred to by many
of the indigenous inhabitants we chatted up. We presumed
that a Director is quite a high ranking position
in the Holland Tulip Secret Society. A kind of “Don” in
the underworld of flowering bulb festivals.

It's Tulip Time in Holland Michigan! When
a dancer is found worthy of performance, Field’s Fabrics
is given the performer’s measurements and the choosing
of the material commences. Field’s Fabrics is the exclusive
supplier for all things Dutch and wearable in Holland. We
don’t think it would be advisable to procure materials
elsewhere, if
you get our drift, a person may very well get whacked. Once an offer
is made that can’t be refused, a local seamstress sews the
ensemble.

It's Tulip Time in Holland Michigan! “The
costume is then inspected to assure that it meets the standard
for authenticity and construction“, as per the Director’s
criterion and the festival‘s website. The whole process
must be very akin to selecting a prom dress for many of Holland’s
giddy youngsters. The end result is a wonderful bouquet of

resplendently costumed dancers klompen through the tulip-lined
streets of Holland. Spectacular, and well worth the effort.

It's Tulip Time in Holland Michigan! While
visiting Field’s Fabrics, we asked about the curious
little gold twirly thingys that adorned certain dancer’s
temples. We were hoping for some inside dirt on how this blooming
little organization operated. Perhaps the quirky little
spirals were in lieu of a secret handshake or some sort of insidious
insignia. No such luck. We were informed that they are called “kissers”

hypothetically designed to keep the boys from stealing a smooch
on the cheek.

“Really?”
we asked.

“I don’t
think it works,” was our answer from the pleasant proprietor.

Indeed.

It's Tulip Time in Holland Michigan! Giving
up on trying to crack into the Dutch Mafia, we decided to
absorb the rest of the celebration without malice. There was
so much to take in — the traditional street scrubbing before
the parades, the Muziekparade, Kinderparade, and Volksparade
(bringing new meaning to the phrase “Dutch Clean“).
The Kinderplaatz, Wooden Shoe-Be-Doo, trolley tours, a beer
garden…and food.

It's Tulip Time in Holland Michigan! Wandering
midst the merriment, we happened upon a food wagon emblazoned
with “OLDE WORLD DELI FATBALLS.” The procession
of folks waiting for a fatball was amazingly long. Could balls
of fat actually be the gastronomical hit of Tulip Time? Curiosity
got the better of David, so he joined the line while Veronica
went in for a bit of recon. Peering
in the back of the wagon, the fatball mystery began to unfold.

A man stood
feeding corndogs, French fries and

large wads of a thick substance
from what looked like a industrial paint container into a deep
fryer. By process of elimination, Veronica deduced that the gobs
of dough must be fatballs in the making.

It's Tulip Time in Holland Michigan! Inching
toward the front of the wagon, Veronica spied the staging
area, the site in which the fatball assembly took place. Here
were grapefruit sized lumps of fried dough glistening with
corndog flavored oil. The balls were then cut open, unceremoniously
packed with either pudding or pie filling, wrapped into grease absorbing
paper and stuffed into a paper snowcone holder, then handed

out
the window to the eagerly awaiting fatball consumers.

It's Tulip Time in Holland Michigan!

Veronica
rejoined David just as he received his chocolate and Bavarian
cream fatball. The orb was more like a lump of pizza dough
than a doughnut. Dense, without a trace of sugar. David’s
arm bulged with the sheer weight of it.

Turns
out that fatballs actually are a Dutch treat, not just some
weird thing Michiganders cooked up. Fatballs
are identified by a number of names in the motherland — order up
an oliebollen, vet ballen, smoutebollen or oliekoecken and you‘ll
be given a good ole ball of fat.

It's Tulip Time in Holland Michigan!

We took our oliebollen to the gazebo to enjoy music from a Dutch
folk group direct from Holland, Moederleet. Just as we were contemplating
picking up a case of Heineken and heading backstage to party with
the band, the full impact of David’s vet ballen hit.

Our delightful
day amongst the tulips came to an abrupt and unfortunate end.
Let’s just say that if you ever find yourself in Holland,
Michigan you might want to avoid the Shell station. The bathroom
will never be the same.

David & Veronica,
GypsyNester.com


Going Gypsy: One Couple's Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All Did you enjoy what you just read? Then you’ll LOVE our book!

Going Gypsy
One Couple’s Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All
 

GoingGypsyBook.com – See how it all began!

ORDER NOW –
Wherever Books Are Sold!

Amazon – Barnes & Noble – IndieBound – Books-a-Million
Also available as an audiobook from Audible.com

4 thoughts on “Of Tulips & Fat Balls”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *