2020 Tulip Time Festival canceled due to COVID-19

After nearly two days of deliberation, the Tulip Time Steering Committee has decided to cancel the 2020 Tulip Time Festival.

The festival was scheduled for May 7-9.

On March 15, the Tulip Time Steering Committee and Pella Historical Society and Museum board members met with representatives from the city of Pella, the Marion County Department of Health and Marion County Emergency Management to discuss COVID-19 as it relates to the festival.

Committee Chair Cyndi Atkins and Pella Historical Society Executive Director Val Van Kooten regretfully announced the festival’s cancellation Tuesday evening.

“This is the only way that we can keep our visitors safe, our volunteers, our participants, our residents of Pella and anyone else involved with the festival,” says Van Kooten. “We feel we must take the warnings of the CDC and the Iowa State Department of Health very seriously.”

Atkins says canceling the festival creates a financial hardship for the city’s local nonprofits, retailers and members of the hospitality industry, as many set their budgets each year in relation to the festival. They ask individuals to make donations to local nonprofits and shop local during this time.

According to Van Kooten, the festival has only been canceled one other time in its 85-year history in 1946.

On Sunday, the Center for Disease Control updated its guidance for gatherings of more than 50 people be postponed across the country for the next eight weeks. Last year, the festival attracted between 180,000 and 200,000 visitors.

Emily Hawk can be reached at ehawk@pellachronicle.com or by calling the newsroom at 641-628-3882.