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Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Every April, rows of tulips brighten up the Skagit Valley and locals and tourists don mud boots to walk the fields and snap that quintessential tulip photo to mark their Skagit Valley Tulip Festival experience. While walking past the colorful rows or buying your bouquet, have you ever asked, “How did the first tulips get here?” Long before the festival, tulips were grown in western Washington, but one man in particular is known for creating what we know today.

THE DUTCH HAVE LANDED

With the knowledge from six generations of Dutch tulip growers running through his DNA, one could say William Roozen deeply understood the perfect soil and weather conditions for growing tulips. After a family business trip to the Skagit Valley, he and his wife Helen decided to put down roots here, and also put his tulip growing skills to the test in western Washington’s soil and maritime climate.

Roozen worked the tulip fields first, and by 1950 had saved enough money to purchase a five-acre farm. Soon after, he started the Washington Bulb Company, and under his guidance and skill and Helen’s management savvy, the company, well, blossomed.

“My grandfather lived the very essence of the American dream,” says Brent Roozen, a third-generation Skagit Valley tulip grower. “He came here with nothing, put in a lot of work, long hours, time and effort, and built something pretty special. Hopefully, what he built will be enjoyed for years to come.”

Today, the company has around 2,000 acres for bulb and tulip production, including dedicated acreage to daffodils, grains, and grasses.

THE BIRTH OF A FESTIVAL

Encouraged by the visitors who came every April to see the flowering tulip fields, the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce launched its first Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in 1984. The three-day event included activities like one-hour guided tours for $3, a seaplane tulip field tour for $15, and a hot air balloon race. The festival is now a month-long, activity-packed event, and the tulip fields remain the highlight—they include the stunning display gardens at Tulip Town and RoozenGaarde, which also sell tulip bulbs and freshly cut flowers. These days, there’s an official poster, bike rides, and weekly activities like art shows, wine tastings, and scenic helicopter rides over the flowering tulip fields.

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
311 W. Kincaid St., Mount Vernon
360.428.5959 | tulipfestival.org
RoozenGaarde
15867 Beaver Marsh Rd., Mount Vernon
360.424.0419 | tulips.com

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"Every April, rows of tulips brighten up the Skagit Valley and locals and tourists don mud boots to walk the fields and snap that quintessential tulip photo to mark their Skagit Valley Tulip Festival experience."