“Traffic” is the most important, and most disturbing, word at the Tulip Festival

“Traffic” is the most important, and most disturbing, word at the Tulip Festival

This year’s Tulip Festival is all about traffic – on the road and on social media.

Eighty percent of traffic to the Tulip Festival website comes from people using mobile devices. Through its new mobile-friendly website, people can purchase garden show tickets, get floral updates, and even check the Skagit County weather right from their phones.

A large paid media campaign sponsored by the Skagit Tourism Office and the festival attracted many new visitors to the site. “Tulips are our crown jewel,” but print and digital advertising “encourages people to not just see the tulips and leave, but to come for a week and stay a few days to explore other parts of the province as well,” said Christine Keltz, CEO of the tourism office. “.

As for the type of traffic that sends residents into a frenzy, Tulip Festival Director Nicole Rosen hopes visitors using their phones will eventually be able to access traffic warnings on Facebook and Instagram. But not this year, as two weeks ago I brought the key players together at the Skagit County Board of Commissioners office. The festival, the tourism office, the four display parks, the Washington State Department of Transportation, the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office and the Division of Emergency Management reviewed past practices, goals, and future concerns.

Assistant County Engineer Given Kutz and his Public Works team added flashing lights to stop signs, “no parking” signs on the shoulders and “local traffic only” signs on Calhoun and Jungquist roads. With Festival Director Rosen and Washington Bulb President Leo Rosen, Sgt. Craig Kolk of the Sheriff’s Traffic Department visited all of Lantern Company’s fields to identify places where bottlenecks might develop.

Caulk says WSDOT will be monitoring its cameras along State Routes 536 and 20 for unexpected backups. The traffic unit, including two motorcycle officers, will operate on weekends from Fire District 2 at McLean and Beaver Marsh roads, a major congestion point. Caulk is grateful that the Tulip Festival relies on the county lodging tax to pay off-duty officers to report traffic on McLean Road.

The goal is to avoid obstacles like the two-mile line of cars that backed up on Beaver Marsh Road last April. “The nightmare happens when parking lots are full and don’t empty fast enough,” Kolk said. Volunteers and paid employees who monitor the park’s parking lots play a key role in moving traffic.

The new “pain point” is Bradshaw Road and his park located directly across the road. Tulip Town will direct people leaving their lot to turn right and drive south onto McLean Road. Tulip Valley Ranch will direct people north to Highway 536.

“People remember the first five minutes and the last 10 minutes of their time on the farm,” said Andrew Miller, CEO of Tulip Valley Farm. “There are things we can work on to make everyone’s experience more enjoyable.”

To report a traffic jam, Kolk recommends calling the non-emergency dispatch number, 360-428-3211. The traffic team’s computers display a running log of the traffic complaints they process as they come in.

Meanwhile, the tulips are about to bloom.

Roozengaarde has been open for about two weeks. “The entire display garden has been redesigned and replanted this year, and our fields will be exceptionally colorful and picturesque,” ​​says Director Brent Rosen.

Tulip Town opens on Friday and “the fields look amazing,” says CEO Rachel Sparowaser. Visitors can play or take photos on the four-person hammocks spread around the fields. Besides the kids’ Easter egg hunt, the 21+ Easter Egg Hunt includes a beer or wine of your choice. Also new this year: food trucks on weekends to complement the café and beer and wine garden. Locals Night will be Wednesday, April 10.

Ken Stern

Tulips in Bloom – A vibrant field of tulips on the east side is one of the best blooms of the route during the 2023 Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.

“We are now the second largest in the United States and the only one in the Valley,” said Miller, whose farm will become fully Tulip Valley Farm in 2024. They grow in our damp, windy valley – and “little” tulips, too.

“Come late, watch the sunset, sit around the fire, watch the light show and enjoy tulip tacos with friends” during Night Bloom weekend, Miller said. Neighbors Night, sponsored by Helping Hands Food Bank, takes place on April 17. The Bloom Ball, a fundraiser for the United Way, will be held on April 18.

Garden Rosalyn’s windmill has a fresh coat of paint, and owner Ernesto Mendoza has planted more tulips than ever before. When the park opens on Thursday, March 28, leashed dogs and cats will be welcome, crafts will be for sale and snacks will be available from food trucks in the parking area. He points out that the swans swimming in the small lake will not be restricted.

Mendoza welcomes people to bring their own food to enjoy at his picnic tables. “Their presence here restores and comforts people,” he said.

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