PELLA, Iowa — Pella’s Tulip Time festival brings in hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
“The excitement is real. Seeing people and seeing how in awe they are at our town and what we do here is really amazing,” said Elizabeth Baldwin who recently moved to Pella in 2020.
Baldwin moved from Lamoni and was one of many awe-inspired fans of the 300,000-plus tulips on display until she got an idea while waiting in line for food at the Eatery Island vendor truck at the festival in 2021. “I came and had some lunch and saw a for sale sign in the window and thought that’s interesting. What would that be like?” mused Baldwin.
It was her first Tulip Time festival as a Pella resident and while most would be happy to walk home with a famous Dutch letter, the impact of Tulip Time bloomed for Baldwin into a business as the brand new owner of Eatery Island. Baldwin said, “They offered to let us come work a few events with them to kind of see if we’d like it or not.”
Her first event as an entrepreneur came full circle at last year’s Tulip Time. “Which maybe wasn’t the best choice because Tulip Time is a really large event but it was a good experience for us. It was a learning curve and we rocked it,” said Baldwin.
Specializing in funnel cakes, hand-dipped corn dogs, and ribbon fries. It was perhaps a baptism by deep fryer. “Usually we have somebody at the register, somebody’s at this window, two people running fryers, and then your kind of everything gopher person. Five to six people. It gets tight in there and you’ve got to be friendly,” Baldwin said.
The food hopes to take people back to paradise, but Elizabeth also hopes it can take them down memory lane to provide a lifelong memory lane. Baldwin said, “It’s amazing when we can make them happy and leave our food truck like this was amazing. That is one of the best feelings in the world.”
Like the perennial nature of the festival’s namesake, you can expect Eatery Island and Elizabeth to return where it all started every year. Baldwin said, “Living here, it’s kind of easy to forget how gorgeous our town is. How many places can you go in, get rhubarb or Dutch letter lemonade? People are going to remember that.”
Eatery Island will also be in Pella every Thursday for Thursdays in Pella. The Dutch letter lemonade is a Tulip Time exclusive.