The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival was officially inaugurated in 1984 by the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce. Chamber directors Jerry Diggerness and Joan Houchen saw that people were coming by the thousands to view the tulips and, through a retreat, decided to add events and festivities to enhance the visitors’ trip to the Skagit Valley. In 1994 the Tulip Festival broke off from the Chamber of Commerce and became an entity of its own, eventually opening a separate office and store.
From humble beginnings, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival grew. It moved from 2 days to 10, then 17 and then to 30 days. The expansion to 30 days was to ensure that the huge fields of tulips grown in Skagit Valley by Washington Bulb Co./RoozenGaarde would actually bloom sometime during the festival, since a shorter festival sometime missed the blooming of the fields.
Today the festival boasts an amazing assortment of events -- art shows, gala celebrations, concerts, tours of local shellfish and farming operations and an open house at PACCAR. Two signature events have grown along with the festival --the Downtown Mount Vernon Street Fair and the Kiwanis Salmon Barbecue – fundraisers for both organizations that have proven highly successful. There are lots of physical activities associated with the festival as well – a run, 20- 40- and 60-mile bike rides, and a youth basketball tournament.