The iconic Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival — one of Oregon’s most popular agritourism events, drawing an estimated 150,000 to the Woodburn area annually — will return this Friday after Covid-19 derailed the 2020 iteration last March during the early onset of the pandemic.
The festival opens Friday, March 19, and will run through May 2, with new coronavirus protocols in place, including sanitation procedures, face coverings and maintaining six feet of physical distance from other employees and other guests.
Ordinarily, maintaining social distance on a 40-acre tulip farm would not be much of a problem — unless you also happen to be at an event that regularly draws thousands of other people.
So, this year, the Iverson family-owned Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm is also implementing a new online ticketing process that will also allow them to limit visitors — including capping capacity at half of the outdoor facility’s normal occupancy.
All tickets purchased in advance last year will be honored in 2021. And, seven days prior to a visit date, the farm will release additional tickets for purchase while adhering to statewide guidelines.
“We are so thrilled to be able to invite guests to experience the color and beauty of our tulip fields this year,” said Karen Iverson Bever. “2020 was a challenge for everyone, and we want people to come out and enjoy the outdoors and all the lovely tulips.”
In 2020, the Tulip Fest had been one of the first major dominoes to fall in what Oregonians will remember as a year unlike any other — particularly for large events.
As Bever told The Canby Current this week, the family had been carefully tracking news about the virus, but the pandemic still hit faster than they — or anyone else — expected.
“We could kind of see it was coming, but we were hoping it wouldn’t come as fast as it did,” she said. “We were hoping we could at least start the festival, because we were all set. We were all ready to go. It was really crushing.”
That planning included, of course, significant investment on the part of the farm, including purchasing and prepping more than 8,000 potted tulips for sale — with few good options for recouping those costs.
Canby’s Swan Island Dahlias lent a major hand, offering up its self-serve flower stand as a way to move some of the surplus goods.
Another ingenious and highly successful initiative (devised by Wooden Shoe’s marketing and social media team) was Pots for Seniors, a program that allowed people to give donations for potted tulips to be gifted to long-term care facilities.
“We were actually able to go through all of our inventory and brighten up the day for tons and tons of seniors,” said Wooden Shoe’s Cassidy VanDomelen. “People felt really great that they were able to send them a pot, and we’ll be doing that again this year.”
For the Iverson family, Bever said, canceling the festival for the second straight year was never an option.
“We approached it like we have to do it — the tulips aren’t going to wait,” she said. “We planned a full festival — obviously with changes in layout and that sort of thing — but we had a back-up plan where if we got shut down again, we’re going drive-thru.”
Tulip Fest’s hours will run 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For tickets and other information, visit woodenshoe.com.
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