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Tulip tourism in full bloom

No fooling: the Tulip Festival season is here. A week into April, it is for sure: The month long Skagit Tulip Festival has blossomed. Flower fields unfold in every direction this year, south, north and east of La Conner. They are in full press daffodil yellow, spectacularly so, some 500 acres of bright yellow. While tulips are starting to flower in a variety of colors, the dominant tone is green, as in leaves. The late tulip blossoming may mean Washington Bulb Company’s workers will wait until May to top them.

If tulips flower into May, tourists will continue to flock to the fields for selfies, photo ops and tours. That extended time period is welcome news for La Conner’s tourist oriented economy. Farmers, merchants and volunteers have had a year to plan and prepare following 2020’s economic and social lockdown mandated to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

In La Conner, shops and restaurants have been adding inventory and employees and expanding hours. The Chamber of Commerce has championed oversized tulip cutouts promoting “Love La Conner.” The First on First group has pushed Daffodil and Tulip bulb filled blue pots assembled by Linda Banaszak, owner of Caravan Gallery, and volunteers. Painted flowers, also organized by Banaszak, have bloomed on many business windows. Less successful has been the effort by the Tulip Festival and WaFd Bank to replace the town’s once and future impromptu parade with window and yard displays.

And, the symbol of perseverance itself, the Vintage La Conner store run by La Conner Soroptimist International, opened for the second time last Friday. At 2 p.m. that day, a line of people waited patiently to get their turn at good deals.

Saturday the Third Street parking lot below Town Hall was full for the first time since perhaps 2019. Sunday, parked cars filled the area on the west side of Maple Hall and south of the warehouse. As Monday morning ended, cars filled curbside spaces on First Street and tourists were on the sidewalk on both sides of the street. The Slider Cafe’s Pat Ball called in additional staff to handle far more business than he had expected.

If the weather hovers around 60 degrees, as the Weather Channel forecasts for April’s second half, even projected overcast and rain is unlikely to keep tourists out of the tulip fields or out of La Conner.


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