At first, they just sold flowers and greenery. They grew different sorts of tulips to sell tubers. Then, somebody thought… why not show this field to people. That’s how it started! It is the second year the Tulip Festival takes place in the Volyn region. This year, it is more than 350 sorts, 5 days of the festival, more than 2 hectares of flowers, 1.5 USD entrance fee. Kilometers long traffic jams on the highway and thousands of people taking selfies and posting them in social networks.
“Please don’t lie in garden beds! Don’t lie in garden beds! You will have to pay the fine!” a woman with a megaphone bent upon the flowers and screamed to somewhere… down.
That scream made all the tulip field tremble. Meanwhile, a woman was lying upon straw between garden beds. She didn’t care. She was smiling and posing for a photo.
On the other side of the bed, her husband was also doing his best to take a photo of his dear wife with his iPhone in one hand and her bag in the other. Well, of course. He “brought his wife to see the tulips”.
And let the whole world wait: hardly had Volyn residents (and people from the neighbouring Rivne region) finished their Easter dinner than they came to the Tulip Festival. Even a hard rain and dirt on the ground on the first day didn’t stop people coming. Because this year, the festival no more and no less is a post-Easter must have.
An agricultural cooperative LiliLine arranged the Tulip Festival on their own 2-hectare field which is situated 36 km away from the town of Lutsk (the centre of the Volyn region).
The first attempt to arrange a flower show took place last year. The farmers didn’t expect this but people really loved the idea, so this year, the filed became bigger and the number of visitors rocketed. This show is called here a Volyn Holland. Any Lutsk resident would tell you that the Volyn Holland is situated somewhere near the village of Svydnyky, the Kovel district…
About 2 kilometres before the turn from the highway which leads to the Yahodyn Customs Post, and then to Poland, the first line starts. May 1. The second day of the festival near the village of Svydnyky. All the “workers” of the Volyn towns and villages set out for the festivals as soon as the sun rose.
Actually, the organizers needn’t have posted the route and the map beforehand, as well as put a sign near the road: car lines told more than all the maps in the world. Ones – there, the others – back. Some people were shining with their feeling of fulfillment, some were holding bouquets in their hands. Patrol officers were working hard near the turn: they had their own “festival”.
People got there through the forest and field. They were heading to the place with a food truck and a symbolic gate which says Volyn Holland. A huge amount of people came. At the entrance, you can get your ticket from a friendly worker. An adult ticket is 1.5 USD.
“We tell them and ask, but they come and trample, come and trample, and we can’t do anything about that. These are our rules. But no: some of them pick flowers just from the garden beds,” Tetiana Sliusarchuk, a resident of the neighbouring town of Holoby, a Festival volunteer, says.
She has a badge on her chest and a megaphone in her hands. She’s even hoarsened. About 10 her colleagues are constantly keeping order on the field.
“Come to the Kivertsi Holland!” an older woman shouts having noticed journalists.
Flowered headscarf. Glasses. Grey hair under the headscarf. We can see it is hard for her to walk among the beds. But she keeps on walking, smiles to herself…
This is Olha Denysiuk from the Volyn town of Kivertsi. She says: her children brought her here. At her home, in the village of Kivertsi, the woman has been selling flowers for some years: she grows them in a flowerbed and sells at the market. I ask her whether she regrets paying 1.5 USD for the entrance.
“Oh no! Nonsense! I never save money on that. I loved those lilac ones the most because I don’t have such at home. As for those yellow ones, I also have them. Difficult? Why should it be difficult for me? When I see flowers, I forget about all the pain!” she laughs.
Meanwhile, people have occupied photo zones. A frame of a metallic bed among tulips. Provocative plastic manikin legs with stockings and shoes on them are put beneath the garden beds. Somewhere in flowers, a butterfly wing or Victoria Secret logo is placed…
These people came together. On wheels. Because some of them are on… wheelchairs. As, for example, Olha Yarenchuk from the town of Kovel.
“I am not alone here, this is a civil organisation Association of People With Disabilities Dobrodiia v Dii (Kindness in action),” Olha says. “We came and were surprised when they didn’t charge the fee from us. We didn’t know it was possible, frankly speaking. The show is, of course, incredible. “
Numerous tents sell not only hot dogs, vodka with honey and mulled wine, but also flowers. Tetiana Pashkovska, an operational director at LiliLine, quickly sells flowers. She wears boots with a bow. There are flowers of different colours: pink, purple, etc… People are standing in line to buy them.
“We worried of course because it rained on the first day. People complained that it was dirty and they spoilt their shoes, we asked visitors to wear boots and raincoats. But fortunately, the sun came,” the woman smiles.
She says they haven’t used any other experience. They have friends in the Netherlands who are also occupied with flowers, that’s where they took technologies and exclusive Volyn tulips. There are similar fields in the Chernivtsi and Kherson regions, but they are much smaller, according to Tetiana.
There are about 350 sorts of tulips in the Volyn Holland this year. 58 new ones have been added. 8 of them are special. For example, tulips Artist Double, Victoria Secret, Versace…
Tetiana is again posing against the flowers for the journalists. She tells again how it had started. How Oleksandr Podzizei, an owner of the enterprise, found an idea for his own business in her mom’s obsession with growing lilies, gladioluses and different greenery. Her hobby started at the Soviet times when selling flowers you have grown by yourself was considered almost a crime. How he launched his tulip business and planted them on the field near the neighbouring village of Svydnyky. She told how the whole Volyn is astonished by his flowers. Even he didn’t expect that.
In fact, the idea is very profitable. Because the flower sellers had to plant different sorts of tulips anyway, even without the festival, in order to sell tubers for seeds. They would cut blossoms anyway. But now, thousands of people pay money just to see them.
… Behind the field with tulips, there is an area with those which don’t bloom. From time to time, you can also see many people there. Some people came to the festival to enjoy the flowers, and some came to take tubers from the ground while nobody sees them.
Oh, you should definitely see how arrogantly and proudly these people run out of the field when they hear the megaphone saying to them:
“Dear guests, please leave the field! You mustn’t go there, we will fine you!”
The next day, the organisers really fined people. People who liked this tulip vibe understood this decision.
This is how a modest idea to show their big flower garden became a real tourist attraction. Equally great for young Instagram selfie lovers and family couples as well as for the 70-year-old lady who has been growing some plants near her house for her whole life, and now she can see something she has never seen.
Also, it is a good chance to see how many people there are, who just come, pick up flowers, hold them in their hands for some time, take a photo and throw them into the trash bin. Others? Oh, they will be pretty good with just seeing naked haulms.
We should have more flower festivals, more, to beat people’s striving for… cupidity.
By Olena Livitska
Photo by Iryna Kabanova