Visitors will experience the “Dutch touch” nearly everywhere in Holland, Michigan, said Wendy Link, sales director for the Holland Convention and Visitors Bureau. Dutch Calvinist separatists settled Holland in 1847, and their influence is still evident in the community that even 75 years ago was primarily Dutch, Link said.
Windmill Island Gardens is home to the 260-year-old De Zwaan windmill, the only authentic working Dutch windmill in the United States. Visitors can tour all five floors of the windmill, listen to a presentation by the miller and even buy a bag of flour ground there, Link said. The park also has gorgeous gardens and a pavilion that can hold about 300 people, she said.
Cobblestone sidewalks, Victorian street lamps and, in the spring, thousands of tulips greet visitors downtown, where nearly all of the 100 shops are locally owned. Every spring, visitors will find roughly 6 million tulips in the community: about 4 million at the local tulip farm, which is open for tours, and the rest at Windmill Island and in every city park and flower bed, Link said.
Groups can arrange events at downtown restaurants or receptions at the Holland Museum, which showcases the city’s history as well as a surprising collection of historic Dutch art.
Dutch-costumed greeters and traditional Dutch dancers are available for conferences, and one of Holland’s two wooden shoe factories can make wooden shoes to use as event souvenirs or as centerpieces, Link said.
As the saying goes, “Everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.” Well, in Dublin, Ohio, everybody’s Irish every day.
Dublin does have some Irish roots, although the connection doesn’t go much beyond the name: The family that settled the town worked with an Irishman who, historians say, named the new village in honor of his birthplace.
The city’s downtown sits on the banks of the Scioto River and is a National Historic District. The brick sidewalks and stacked stone walls add to the neighborhood’s Irish feel, and most of the older buildings “have been a pub at one time or another,” said Samantha Kennedy, SMERF/group tour sales manager for the Dublin Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Groups can take self-guided tours of downtown, then have lunch in a private room at the Brazen Head Irish Pub, modeled and named after Ireland’s oldest pub, which opened in 1198. Groups can also stop in Ha’penny Bridge Imports —pronounced “hay-penny” — to shop products that the store owners bring back from Ireland.
Kennedy said the CVB has also developed several Irish experiences for groups, including one where a storyteller performs a traditional Irish wake set at the character’s home in 1898. Instructors from the Richens-Timm Academy of Irish Dance will also teach groups about the history of Irish dance, Kennedy said, and dancers are available for performances during events.
Because the CVB has relationships with the entertainers who perform during the city’s annual Dublin Irish Festival, the agency can bring in Irish or Celtic bands, singers and dancers to perform at meetings and conferences.