Due to an overwhelming popular demand, the Tulips of the Valley Festival has had to close its gates this season.
This is the time when the fields at Seabird Island near Agassiz are starting to show some colour, nearing the height of blooming season. And as visitors to the festival in the past will know, there’s nothing quite as inspiring as meandering through the tulips as they burst in reds, yellows, whites, pinks, and every other colour under the sun.
But the popularity of the festival led to some insurmountable challenges last year, as the number of visitors to the farm was a staggering 30,000 over two weeks. On the weekends, traffic along the busy Hwy. 7 corridor was brought to a standstill, as the visitors tried to find parking, both in the paid lots and along the highway.
On April 12 last year, the RCMP closed the festival due to traffic backup.
So this year, the festival’s organizer Kate Onos-Gilbert has had to cancel the festival.
The festival is operated right on the farmland Onos-Gilbert leases from the Seabird Island band, but that lease was up this year.
The growing traffic problems in the area meant the location was no longer ideal. But a suitable alternative hasn’t arisen, and won’t in time for the blooming season.
The festival grew from a small start in 2006, to becoming the largest seasonal event in the area. Visitors have traveled far and wide to see the tulips in bloom, including internationally.
Onos-Gilbert said this pause in the festival as they search for a better location doesn’t mean her beautiful flowers will go to waste.
As always, she said, tulips lovers can find their flowers in most local stores by looking for their logo on the wrapping.