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Tulip Time Festival In Holland, Michigan May Be 'Stemfest' Due To Early Spring

05/03/12 11:39 AM ET  AP

HOLLAND, Mich. -- The annual Tulip Time festival in West Michigan is looking like it might be more of a "stemfest" this year after unseasonably warm weather encouraged the flowers to bloom earlier than usual.

The parks department in Holland, a city known for its Dutch heritage which has hosted the festival for more than 80 years, estimated Monday that about 40 percent of the 500,000 flowers planted will be in bloom next week. But many more will be past their prime.

Nevertheless, Tulip Time organizers are embracing the otherwise troublesome presence of so many flowerless stems; they'll start selling $10 "stemfest" shirts and $1 buttons on Friday, the day before the weeklong festival opens.

"I hope people have fun with it," Susan Zalnis, Tulip Time's marketing manager, told The Holland Sentinel.

The black T-shirts depict a wilting white tulip missing its petals. Festival officials first started talking about ordering the merchandise in March, when temperatures were in the 80s. Then the weather cooled off and they were not sure when the blooms would appear.

"We thought we might just keep them in the box," Zalnis said of the merchandise.

There are only 300 of the shirts in stock at the Tulip Time offices, Zalnis said, so they could be a hot commodity.

A Holland business, meanwhile, is selling its own "Stem Fest" clothing. Harbor Wear is offering $27 sweatshirts and $16 T-shirts for the Tulip Time festivities. Penny Doan, team leader at the store, said they sold similar items about a decade ago.

"We had an extra warm spring, and used to have Tulip Time a week later," Doan told The Grand Rapids Press. "This year, we definitely needed them with that warm weather in March."

Regardless of how many flowers are in bloom, Tulip Time Executive Director Gwen Auwerda said they're expecting a good festival.

"Some visitors will come to Holland and focus on the remaining tulips; others will only see the stems," Auwerda said. "It's all a matter of one's perspective."

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Online:

Below, see a gallery of photos of tulips blooming this spring in the Netherlands.

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  • Tourists admire fields of blossoming tulips near Noordwijk, western Netherlands, Sunday, April 22, 2012. Holland is the world's main producer of commercially sold tulip plants, producing as many as 3 billion bulbs annually, about two thirds are for export. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

  • A child runs through fields of blossoming tulips near Noordwijk, western Netherlands, Sunday April 22, 2012. Holland is the world's main producer of commercially sold tulip plants, producing as many as 3 billion bulbs annually, about two thirds are for export. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

  • Fields of blossoming tulips are seen near Noordwijk, western Netherlands, Sunday April 22, 2012. Holland is the world's main producer of commercially sold tulip plants, producing as many as 3 billion bulbs annually, about two thirds are for export. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

  • A classic car taking part in a rally passes fields of blossoming tulips near Noordwijk, western Netherlands, Sunday April 22, 2012. Holland is the world's main producer of commercially sold tulip plants, producing as many as 3 billion bulbs annually, about two thirds are for export. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

  • A cyclist and a pedestrian pass fields of blooming tulips which reflect in the glass of green houses near Noordwijk, western Netherlands, Sunday April 22, 2012. Holland is the world's main producer of commercially sold tulip plants, producing as many as 3 billion bulbs annually, about two thirds are for export. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

  • Tourists park their cars to take picture of fields of blossoming tulips and hyacinths near Noordwijk, western Netherlands, Sunday April 22, 2012. Holland is the world's main producer of commercially sold tulip plants, producing as many as 3 billion bulbs annually, about two thirds are for export. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

  • Indonesian children run through fields of blossoming tulips as they have their picture taken near Noordwijk, western Netherlands, Sunday April 22, 2012. Holland is the world's main producer of commercially sold tulip plants, producing as many as 3 billion bulbs annually, about two thirds are for export. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

  • Take the Holland Tulip Bike Tour

    Holland Tulips and more Holland tulips. Flying into Amsterdam the tulips look like technicolor barcodes. See Hollands tulips the best way, by bike.

Flickr photo by BrentOzar.

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Filed by Kate Abbey-Lambertz  |