During the fifties, there was little to do in the polder. During Spring and Summer, the nearby dunes and beaches attracted strings of tourists. So close and yet so far, for they rarely strayed into the polder. How do we get those people to leave the beaches behind and come visit us? That is the question that plagued the Henk Jonker, Dick op ‘t Veld, Jan Kortehaas and Koos Onderwater, the then members of the VVV-board. Their solution? Organizing the Flower Days!
How did it all start?
Before the Flower Day were first held, inhabitants of Breezand would sometimes put homemade flower pieces in their gardens or they would make shapes with the tulip heads during Spring. These were the humble beginnings of the Flower Days.
The Flower Days officially started in 1953, with nine contestants that each created a mosaic that was laid out on the ground. During the following edition, to gain more visitors, 6 flower girls took a black car to the Schager Market and handed out flyers about the Flower Days. Modest in today’s view of publicity, but during the 50s the publicity stunt was talk of the town.
Taking the mosaics off the ground
During the first editions, no prices were handed out yet. What we did get, however, was a lot of press coverage, especially in Bert Garthof’s radio show “Weer of geen weer”. The next edition saw the amount of contestants rize up to 40, more and more people wanting to try their hand at creating mosaics. More contestants also meant more variation in the type of mosaic created. The mosaics, initially laid out on the ground, more and more often started to be displayed standing up. People often started work on these mosaics during winter, creating the shape of chicken wire and straw and filled in with hyacinths during spring.
The Flower Day commission takes charge
After 15 years the VVV handed over control of the organisation of the Flower Days to the Flower Day commission. At that point, the number of contestants had well passed 100, including a lot of participants that do not have the luxury of a bulb field full of hyacinths in their back gardens.
For over 25 years, the hyacinth buds have been distributed from a central locations. This practise started when one year the hyacinths flowered much earlier than usual. To make sure the Flower Days could go ahead, a kind hearted farmer made one of his cool rooms available for storage so the Flower Days could go ahead as planned. Poor weather has as times plagued the Flower Days, but it is a rare occasion when the event doesn’t go ahead as planned.
100 years of flower bulbs
2011 marked the 100th anniversary of the first flower bulb farmer settling in Anna Paulowna. A good reason to map out the flower bulb cultivation in the polder. On the website ‘100 years of flower bulb farming in Anna Paulowna’, you can find information and pictures on the farming of flowers in the Anna Paulowna polder in past, present and future.