Why Start a Tulip Festival?

The Power of the Petal Brings People Together in the Heart of the Fraser Valley!

Hi, I’m Kate, the woman who started Tulips of the Valley.

Isn’t it magical, sharing something you love with others? Like revealing a hidden world, something personal that then becomes a shared moment, a shared secret between friends. Then, that secret is spread to others, who are also touched by the magic and hopefully share it with friends. Kind of like the layers of a tulip, that build and build and then slowly reveal a magnificent blossom.

But, much like our flowers, Tulips of the Valley wouldn’t have become what it is without a little nurturing, a little TLC. Like a tulip bulb, it needed years to grow to what it is today, and I couldn’t have done that without my family and something else…

My passion for helping people. As an occupational therapist, it’s my trade, but it’s also my chosen path. I find out people’s individual challenges, whether they’re physical or psychological. Then, I figure out strategies that will help them function within the environment and social systems they live in. I’m a helper, a cheerleader, a friend. I encourage my patients to overcome obstacles, or to cope with them as best they can.

That’s also why I was drawn to farming. I love helping things grow, helping things blossom, to succeed in the soil and the sun. I tend to my plants as I would my patients. I rescue them if they get sick, help them cope with changeable conditions, or if they need my help with an energy boost. What can I say? The soil calls to the nurturer in me.

Farming is Not Just for Food. It’s So Much More…

I also love growing flowers, and not just because they’re beautiful, but also because they have such an impact on our emotional health. I love the therapeutic element of flowers, how they influence mood, and relax you, how they have healing properties, and provide beauty in the world. And for the longest time, I kept this little secret of the flowers to myself. Then, as I became a mother, I shared it with those closest to me, my husband and three children. But, it seemed selfish to keep all this beauty to myself. I wanted to share the awesome power of flowers with others.

At first, I shared my fields with those in my community; neighbours and friends. The joy I witnessed on their faces gave me immense satisfaction and soon, the urge came upon me to create something bigger, to share these blossoms on a wider scale. I wanted people to be able to visit the fields and learn a little about farming in the Fraser Valley, about the power our land has and how beautiful it can be.

How Flowers Inspired the Fest

The concept came to me when my husband’s family, the Onos’, gave me the ideas and insights to help me make the festival what it is. I knew I wanted to create an event that would be inclusive of all people. I wanted to make the natural world accessible to everyone, regardless of age, gender, culture, language, or physical ability.

It was a big job, but everyone pitched in. My father helped me to operate the festival in our inaugural year, back in 2006, and has been involved, one way or another, ever since. My sisters have provided me with most of my photo content throughout the years. Even my kids and their friends have been part of the festival. They bring an amazing dynamic to the fields!

Many of my close friends also became integral to the project. As well as the new friends that I made over the years. Like those connections I forged when we first ran the festival on Seabird Island, near Agassiz. It was on Aboriginal land, and I developed very strong friendships and relationships with members of the local band. In fact, I continue to rely on many of these individuals to help me run my festival even in my new location in Chilliwack.

Why We Keep Doing It…

The one thing we all have in common, my family and my friends, old and new, is that we all enjoy being part of an event that brings so much happiness to so many people. They all report loving the atmosphere at the fields and they thoroughly enjoy watching our visitors as they take in the beauty of the tulips.

Some of our visitors have even become our “adopted family”, part of team tulip, as we affectionately call it. This includes a couple of tour operators and guides who keep coming back to see the blooms. As they return year after year, we reminisce about past festivals, and I rely heavily on their feedback and insights to help improve our festival each year.

Like a tulip bulb, our festival may have started out as something small. But, over the years, with love and care from our family, it expanded into the largest tulip festival in Western Canada. We became the tulip ambassadors, bringing joy, love and light to hundreds of visitors each year!

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

– Kate