Lewes blooms with Tulip Celebration

As part of the Lewes Tulip Celebration, Lewes in Bloom alone plants 20,000 — a number which has grown every year after starting with just 3,000 bulbs nine years ago. (Submitted photo)

LEWES — Tulips are beginning to bloom just in time for the ninth annual Lewes Tulip Celebration running through April 15.

Although now a staple of spring in Lewes, the idea for the Tulip Celebration came after the mayor read about one held in New York.

“He thought it would be a good way to honor our Dutch heritage and it’s been a great success,” said Betsy Reamer, executive director of the Lewes Chamber of Commerce.

As the years have gone on, the event has grown, bringing together many different aspects of the community from garden enthusiasts to restaurateurs.

“It’s amazing how much work all the organizations are able to get done, especially since they are volunteer-based and because preparing for the event is a year-round commitment,” Ms. Reamer said.

One of the most important parts of the celebration is the tulips themselves. Lewes in Bloom alone plants

Tulips bloom near the Zwaanendael Museum where many activities during the Lewes Tulip Celebration will be held. (Delaware State News by Marc Clery)

20,000 — a number which has grown every year after starting with just 3,000 bulbs nine years ago.

“The tulips really transform the town,” said Ms. Reamer who can see a large portion of them from her office window.

“Whether you’re just passing through town or coming specially to look at the tulips, you won’t be disappointed.”

In addition to the tulips in the central areas of town, floral displays have been created by the Sussex Gardeners, one of the oldest garden clubs in the U.S. founded in 1937, and will be on display at the Zwaanendael Museum.

Flower arranging demonstrations are scheduled for today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Floral Inspirations, located at 524 E. Savannah Road (in the shops under the Beacon Motel).

Owner Ken Norman and members of his team invite people to stop by and watch them at work. He will also be hosting a Tulip Arranging class in his store on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to noon and it will be a fundraiser for Lewes in Bloom.

Flowers by Mayumi, located at 128 Second St., will have designers creating floral arrangements on Saturday from 1 to 2 p.m.

The museum also plays host to the Tulip Celebration’s Photo Contest’s entries — 86 in all. The photos range in subject from tulips to architecture but all photos were taken in the town of Lewes.

Submissions will be displayed in a tent in Zwaanendael Park from 11a.m. to 3 p.m. today and Saturday in the Fisher-Martin House from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Also today and Saturday in the park, weather permitting, the Lewes Beekeeping Club will share information about the art and science of beekeeping.

“The Tulip Celebration is a unique event and there aren’t many events like it, especially in the United States so I think a lot of people come here for the first time for the celebration,” Ms. Reamer said.

Free lectures at the Lewes Public Library will be offered today and Saturday.

Children of all ages will take part in activities associated with the Lewes Tulip Celebration. (Submitted photo)

On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Lewes Historical Society is offering the opportunity to experience the 18th century chocolate making process and “taste of the past” in their Museum Gift Shop at 302 Savannah Road.

Visitors will learn more about the 19th century Chocolate Trade Cards and their connection to Lewes’ Dutch beginnings and continued heritage. Blue and White Dutch style Delft ceramics and other collectibles will be on sale.

Other unique displays for the celebration include a quilt exhibit at the Beacon Motel and a floral exhibit, “Birds and Bees, Flowers and Trees,” at the Peninsula Gallery.

On the Lewes beach side of town, two additional events are taking place in the businesses under the Beacon Motel (in addition to the Floral Inspirations demonstration today) Mare’s Bears will be hosting a Spring Flowers Quilt Exhibit in the Beacon Motel lobby today and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Event organizers created the Tip Toe To The Tulips Map that will be available at the Lewes Chamber of Commerce’s Visitor Center. Each map will have a raffle ticket that can be torn off and dropped off no later than Sunday, April 15, at one of the businesses listed on the map. All the raffle tickets will be collected after April 15 and there will be multiple-winner drawing with each winner receiving a gift certificate from one of the participating businesses listed on the map.

The Tulip Celebration is a good reason for out-of-towners to visit Lewes in the off season and gets some new visitors to come for the first time.

“Lewes has never had a Restaurant Week so we decided to start one two years ago and tie it into the tulip celebration,” Ms. Reamer said.

To keep with the spirit of the celebration, the restaurant portion is called “Two Lips Culinary Week” which runs from today until April 12.

Since it’s during the off-season, lines aren’t a big concern and if you order the “Two-Lips” special at one of the participating restaurants, you are entered to win a two-night stay at the Dogfish Inn in Lewes.

“The Tulip Celebration is now such a big event that I genuinely say there is something for everyone,” Ms. Reamer said.

There are other activities taking place in Zwaanendael Park on Saturday, including the GFWC-Zwaanendael Women’s Club taking orders for 6-inch geranium pots for pickup on May 4, the sale of which benefits their donations to the many locally based organizations they support.

For more information about the event, visit HistoricLewes.org or call at (302) 645-8073. For weather updates, call the chamber office at (302) 645-8073.

Ashton Brown is a freelance writer living in Dover.

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