On the west end of the lower peninsula is a town named Holland. If you guess why, you've guessed correctly. Ever since I moved to the state bunny_hugger has talked how we should go visit for Tulip Time. That's normally early May, so it conflicts with Morphicon and the end-of-semester crunch. We decided to go anyway even though the tulips would not be in bloom.
It's still grand, though. We spent much of the afternoon at Nelis' Dutch Village. The spot started as a tulip farm. It bowed to the roadside-attraction nature of it by adding some shows about Dutch culture, and themed buildings, and then rides, and that's taken over to the point that they don't seem to actually grow tulips there anymore. At least not for sale. And it forms a neat little conceptual puzzle: is this a theme park? It's hard to think of a conceptual theory of a theme park that this doesn't satisfy. It's got a theme, live shows, rides, food and drink; what's missing, if it isn't a roller coaster?
The place is small, but still, it's big enough to support canals and bridges linking them, and buildings reminiscent of the Netherlands. They also have a nice big band organ, used for regular shows of Dutch dancing. That show ends with the audience coaxed down to the performance area to do a simple dance that's surely perfectly authentic to some era in Dutch history. By about the fifth go-round I was almost not missing my cues.
There's rides, too, as said. One is an antique carousel. Some of the mounts we assume were beyond restoration and they've been hung on the sides of the enclosing building where they're honestly grotesque. A broken-down carousel horse is an ugly thing to start with, but nailing that to the wall? It may help you get an appreciation for the restoration done on the horses but it can also feed nightmares.
There's also a swing ride, which was sharing an operator with the carousel the first half of the day. And that also had a little water misting. The day was about warm enough to support that, but it does mean we've had a summer theme of ``why are people spraying water at us on this ride?'' There's also a Ferris wheel, decorated to look like a windmill, a great touch.
Besides that there are some petting-zoo style attractions, including chickens and rabbits. There's a Dutch-themed restaurant and bar and ice cream parlor also, and a candle-sculpting shop and exhibit that plays a How It's Made segment about their candle-sculpting practices. And in the gift shop we picked up a jar of Frites Sauce --- mayonnaise for fries, of slightly different formulation than American standard --- and some of the kind of coffee bunny_hugger gets at work that's really great and she can't find anywhere else. Also among the newspaper reprints from the 50s used as shelving decoration we spotted a 1958 advertisement for the Muskegon Deer Park. This is the petting zoo that would grow into Michigan's Adventure. The advertisement literally contains no information about what the Deer Park is, just that it is in Muskegon (somewhere; what road it's on or what highways it's near are unstated), it's open daily 10 to 7, and admission is 50 cents for adults, 25 cents for children 3 to 11, and free for kids under 2. That it's a petting zoo? What street it's on? None of that for this four-column-inch advertisement.
There is some movie about the Netherlands, but we weren't able to see it. We didn't have the time. bunny_hugger said that at least last time she saw it, the movie was a slightly pompous, unintentionally funny piece of British-tv-ready propaganda for taking holidays in the Netherlands. Yeah, I'm tempted too. But we had other things we needed to get to.
Trivia: Four couples were married at sea, by ship's captain Cornelis May, on the voyage carrying the first colonists to New Amsterdam in 1624. Catalina Trico and Joris Rapalje insisted on being married four days before the voyage started. Source: The Island at the Centre of the World, Russell Shorto.
Currently Reading: Austerity Britain, 1945 - 1951, David Kynaston.
PS: Do You Have To Understand This? A non-definitive guide to a learning question.