Holland, Michigan rests on the western edge of Southern Michigan. In the mid-1800s, 60 Dutch men, women, and children left Rotterdam, N.Y., for Wisconsin. After 47 days the harsh winter forced them to the outskirts of Western Michigan. The promised land they hoped for was a dense, swampy forest. Yet, they settled there, calling their new home, Holland. Two years ago, the small town was rated as the second healthiest and happiest town in the U.S.
Singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens attended the local university, Hope, where he found inspiration for his 2004 state record Michigan. The Detroit native sings of blue collar America, automobiles and nostalgic Midwestern summers.
L. Frank Baum, famous for The Wizard of Oz, spent his summers near Holland from 1898 to 1910. He rented an old Victorian summer home to work on the children’s book. Many say that the forest scenes look just like the pathways that run through the Michigan sand dunes.
Virginia, a 2010 drama, was filmed mainly in Holland. The film centers around a sheriff’s daughter who begins to date the son of his mistress of 20 years. Starring Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris and Emma Roberts, it didn’t claim big success at the box office, but fairly represented the humble town of Holland.
It’s called Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout. The high gravity craft beer by New Holland Brewery is just what it sounds. The stout is aged in bourbon barrels, giving it roasted malt characteristics and a vanilla finish. It’s been one of the brewery’s most popular beers since they opened in 1997. The Mad Hatter India Pale Ale is one of the company’s other famed mainstays. It’s dry-hopped, giving it that familiar floral finish. The brewpub is located downtown and offers homemade meals paired with its beers.
Downtown is home to Delftware and DeKlomp, the only wooden shoe production factory in North America. Every year in May, the town blossoms with six million tulips. The tradition started in 1927 from a biology teacher’s innovative idea to beautify the streets. A hundred-thousand bulbs came from the Netherlands and have been meticulously maintained by the city park’s department year-round. There’s even a $50 fine for picking the flowers during the festival in May.
Current mayor Kurt D. Dykstra was elected in Nov. 2009 as Holland’s 40th mayor. With two high school daughters, Mayor Dykstra wanted to start a personal blog called “Thoughts on All Things Holland Michigan and Beyond.”