French impressionist painter Claude Monet is known for his depictions of nature, especially fields of flowers. If he could have visited the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn, Oregon this week with my family, we would have lost him somewhere in the middle of the forty acres, easel upright, brush in hand. The multitude of colors, varieties, and sizes of tulips overwhelmed all of us.
The festival, begun in 1985, is an annual event hosted by three generations of the Ross and Dorothy Iverson family. The Iversons, who purchased the property in 1950, raised six children there and now Iverson Family Farms is run by siblings Barb, Ken, and Nels, and Ken’s son Jon.
Visitors enter by a main gate after paying a one-time vehicle fee of $10 ($5 for bikes and motorcycles and $20 for buses) and park near the Tulip Café and Gift Shop. Food choices range from all-American hamburgers and submarine sandwiches, to hot dogs with Sauerkraut and authentic Mexican dishes. Elephant ears, caramel corn, and ice cream are also on the menu.
Vendors occupy crafter tents at the edge of the children’s play area and offer an assortment of goods including blown glass and handmade wooden shoes. Visitors may purchase tulip bulbs at several venue outlets. Fresh flowers are also available for sale.
The main attraction, acres and acres of blooming tulips, is a vigorous walk down a sawdust strewn path. A main display area, complete with a replica of a Dutch windmill, welcomes visitors to the fields which are another walk a bit further away. To assist those who’d rather not hike, a steam tractor-drawn tram runs to and fro from the main exhibition area to the field. Children may ride in the cow train, another tractor-drawn row of small conveyances painted in the colors of a black and white Holstein cow, and which takes the children down the rows of tulips. Adults can ride a larger train along the rows of flowers.
The festival runs from March 28-May 4. All activities are outdoors and vary by the day. Please check the online daily field report for weather conditions, bloom status of the fields, and a schedule of events at www.woodenshoe.com before you come.