HOLLAND (WWJ/AP) – The annual Tulip Time festival in West Michigan is looking like it might be more of a “stemfest” thanks to unseasonably warm weather that brought out blooming flowers earlier than usual this year.

So organizers of the 83-year-old event in Holland are embracing the otherwise troublesome presence of so many flowerless stems in the city’s tulip beds.

Festival organizers are selling $10 “Stemfest” shirts and $1 buttons. The black T-shirts (seen at lower right) depict a wilting white tulip missing its petals. (They’re available online now at this link).

Tulip Time Executive Director Gwen Auwerda said she and her staff wanted to take the opportunity to poke a bit of fun at themselves as some of the tulip beds lining streets throughout town have more stems than blooming flowers.

stemfest2012tshirt Tulip Time Festival Could Be Stemfest

(credit: tuliptime.com)

“I hope people have fun with it,” Susan Zalnis, Tulip Time’s marketing manager, told The Holland Sentinel. Only 300 shirts are in stock, and Zalnis expects they’ll sell out pretty quickly.

Separately, a downtown Holland business, Harbor Wear, began selling is own stemfest shirts  on Tuesday. (Pictured above).

The Holland parks department estimated Monday that about 40 percent of the 500,000 flowers planted by the city will be in bloom next week.

Talking to WWJ Newsradio 950 on an 80 degree day last month, Auwerda said she’d never seen anything like this before.

“This was the first time that they’ve been this early,” Auwerda said. “I mean, we’ve had early years … during the festival when we didn’t have, you know, all 6 million in bloom at the same time, and we had a smaller number that were actually blooming. But we’ve never seen this at all.”

The festival begins this Saturday, May 5.

Get Tulip Time Festival details at this link.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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