The combination of Peeper’s interest in nature, our daily trips outside and her gift of gab have made for an ever-expanding botanical vocabulary.
While we were in Mexico, she talked about the three distinct varieties of cacti near our hotel. And now that spring is in full swing, she calls out dandelions, daisies and daffodils by their names. We’re still working on the Latin names, though. (Kidding!)
After two visits to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm’s Tulip Fest outside Woodburn, though, she definitely knows tulips. I grew up in Oregon but had never been to the festival.
Last year I saw my friends post photo after photo of their families amid the gorgeous blooms. This year, I made sure we went—and after our first trip, I took my sister and her husband (who also had never gone) when they were in town visiting. At $5 entry per person (or a $20 max per car), it was well worth the trek.
The tulip fields were, of course, breathtaking. Blankets of pink, purple, orange and yellow flowers covered the fields off into the distance. Brilliant fuchsia and fire-tipped yellows burned against the overcast sky. Peeper enjoyed herself, too. As could have been predicted, she sat in the first muddy puddle she found. That’s my girl: More interested in slapping sticks in puddles or sitting on a rusty old tractor than in smelling delicate flowers. If you haven’t been to the festival this year, I urge you to go! The event runs through the first week of May, so there’s plenty of time to make your way to the farm.
If a toddler is in your crew, here are a few tips to help smooth the visit:
Go early. Crowds seem to increase as the day progresses, so head to the fields in the morning. (They open at 9am.) Better yet, go during the week, when you can.
Bring a change of clothes. Peeper was muddy within minutes, so I was glad I had a spare outfit for the drive home. Also, I’m not sure what I was thinking the first trip, but why did I wear a dry clean-only dress? A muddy toddler makes for a muddy mom.
See the tulips first. Kids may be more interested in the playground than the flowers, but head to the fields first. (You can always park directly next to the fields and walk to the playground/gift shop/food area to head off a tantrum.) That said, they have an excellent area filled with slides and tire swings cut to resemble horses. Fun!
Put down the camera. I’m sure I could have snagged a couple more great shots of Peeper in the tulip fields, but after a little while I turned off my camera. I see a lot of parents chasing after their kids with a DSLR in tow (“Look at Mama! Look here! Smell the flower!”), but after a certain point, isn’t it nicer to experience the outing without a piece of tech between you and your child? Plus, it’s nice to watch them enjoy the festival in their own way—even if that means ignoring the blooms and playing in the mud instead.
Bring home tulips. Peeper picked out a few bouquets of tulips to bring home with us, and we enjoyed the color for the following week. I’m so glad to have a reminder of the beautiful days we spent at the Tulip Festival. Even better yet, you can order bulbs there (just notice which are your favorite varieties while you’re in the fields and order them before you leave) so you can enjoy them every spring.
Have you been to the Tulip Festival? Would you go again?