Little Dutch town on the prairie

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at https://www.rnw.org/about-rnw-media.

Once a year the inhabitants of Orange City, Iowa, put on Dutch traditional costumes. They give the streets a good scrub, walk around in clogs and eat tiny Dutch pancakes called ‘poffertjes’. Why? Because it’s Tulip Festival.

Photographer René Clement captured the event in his new book Promising Land.

Some five generations of Dutch people live in Orange City (originally called "Holland" but renamed in honour of the Dutch royal family). The residents are all proud of their Dutch descent – and like to show that during the annual Tulip Festival, as shown in the slideshow below.

Windmills
The people in Orange City only dress in their old-fashioned Dutch outfits for the festival, in celebration of their 19th-century Dutch heritage. As many as 150,000 people visit the picturesque US town with its Amsterdam gables and traditional Dutch windmills for the event.

For his book, New York-based Dutch photographer René Clement made portraits and staged landscape photos, making it look as if the people in Orange City live like this all the time.

Humour
Mr Clement visited Orange City ten times to make the photo series. He became close with the people and felt part of the 'big Dutch family'. He was pleased to find that his subjects liked the photos and saw the humour in them.