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Lewes celebrates Dutch heritage with Tulip Festival

Chamber celebrates fifth annual event with 10,000 bulbs
People line up to try the frustrating bottle game in front of the Zwaanendael Museum. BY RON MACARTHUR
April 16, 2014

Although not all of the more than 10,000 tulips planted in Lewes had bloomed in time for the fifth annual Lewes Tulip Festival, there was enough color and perfect weather to highlight the April 12 event.

The event featured a photography contest, presentation of preservation awards, Dutch games and tours at the museum, tulip bulb sales, a quilt exhibit, plein air artists and Tip Toe to the Tulips trolley tours coordinated with the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. Many downtown Lewes merchants also participated in the event. Deputy Mayor and chamber member Ted Becker was chairman.

Becker said more than 10,000 tulip bulbs were planted last fall. He said thanks to financial assistance from Fulton Bank, a landscaper took on the task of planting most of the bulbs. In addition, Lewes in Bloom volunteers planted many bulbs in planters and beds in the city.

Lewes' connection to the Netherlands dates back to the 17th century. An Englishman, Capt. Henry Hudson, was employed by the Dutch when he discovered the entrance to the Delaware Bay Aug. 8, 1609.

Dutch traders traded with Native Americans in the 1620s, and the first Dutch settlement in Lewes was established in 1631 as a whaling colony. The settlement was short-lived as Siconese Indians raided and destroyed the small village that same year.

The Dutch returned to Lewes in 1659, calling their settlement Hoerenkill. Then in 1674, the English took control of the small village renaming it Whorekill.

Sponsors of the Tulip Festival included Lewes Chamber of Commerce, Lewes in Bloom, Lewes Historical Society, Lewes Parks & Recreation Commission, Zwaanendael Museum and Historic Lewes Farmers Market. Fulton Bank was the corporate sponsor for the second straight year.