ORANGE CITY, Iowa -- A spring determined to skip Siouxland promises to rank among the most colorful in the Sioux County seat as the 78th annual Orange City Tulip Festival blooms Thursday through Saturday.
This Tulip Festival rates most memorable -- even before it sprouts -- for Keri Drescher, new owner/operator of Tulip Town Bulb Company, the shop that raises an array of tulips while pedaling bulbs imported from the Netherlands.
Most memorable? For a few reasons.
For Drescher, this is her first Tulip Festival as a business owner. She landed at one of the city's focal points, in one reason, because of a progressive genetic eye disease that has left her legally blind. The Tulip Time Bulb Co., which she purchased four months ago, represents something she can do from the comfort of her small shop and sprawling yard near downtown Orange City.
The business, more or less, came with the four-bedroom home she and husband, Dan Drescher, purchased last July from Brett and Nora Mulder, who resided here and ran Tulip Time Bulb Company for years. The Mulders, who built up the business, relocated to a condo in town.
"We were interested in the business as it's something I could do with my vision," Keri Drescher said from the shop that stands a few feet from the deck serving the south side of their home. "We figured that by running this business we'd also get really involved in and could serve our community."
The community is what brought the Dreschers here in the first place, not a business opportunity.
Keri said the couple raised their children in Winona, Minnesota, but struggled in finding a church and a school for their children. While sharing their concerns, a pair of friends, Jim and Peggy Subart, who had relocated to Orange City, spoke to the Dreschers about life in this growing city of 6,200 residents.
"We read about Orange City and really liked what we learned," said Keri, a native of Detroit, Michigan. "Before then, I'd never heard of Orange City."
She and Dan came to town in December 2015 to examine job prospects, already knowing this is where they'd relocate. Dan, an immigrant from England, now works for Edward D. Jones out of the Le Mars, Iowa, office.
The couple resided in nearby Alton, Iowa, for one year until moving three to four miles west and setting up shop in the former Mulder home, as Keri's weakening vision necessitated a move to Orange City.
"We loved our house in Alton, but Dan said we should look for a home in Orange City," she said. "At the time, I had a restrictive license and we thought it might be best if were in Orange City. This home is perfect in its central location for me; two blocks from our church, Cornerstone Baptist Church, two blocks from school and two blocks from the grocery store."
One week after their move here last July, Keri lost her license as her eye doctor couldn't sign off on her driving, due to the advancement of her macular corneal dystrophy, a rare condition diagnosed in her at age 14.
While Dan is at work and daughters Sarah, 16, and Emma, 11, are at school (daughter Kaila, 21, attends school and works in Minnesota), Keri educates herself on all things tulips. She's learned that Orange City's favorite flowers are hardy, something even beginning green-thumbs can grow. Her favorite varieties are the Van Eijks, a pretty-in-pink treat that emerged in time for the festival, and the Red Novas, a double-peony she ordered as gifts last year and had them sent to friends in Michigan.
On Thursday and Friday, the Dutch distributor for Tulip Town Bulb Co., Piet Stuifbergen, will join the Mulders in assisting Drescher in her first official Tulip Festival as a shop owner. The "rookie" will do her part by donning a Gelderland dress made by Allyn Tock, another newcomer to Orange City and fellow member of Cornerstone Baptist Church.
"We have prayed a lot that the weather would turn and the tulips would be showing," Keri Drescher said as she examined flower beds in one of Northwest Iowa's most-visited lawns, a green space soaking up a warm shower early in the week, mere hours before the start of a color festival that celebrates this community and its Dutch heritage. "God is answering our prayers. It'll be perfect this year."