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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Koninginnedag (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Like what the heck is Koninginnedag? In an interview that can't do justice to his accent, the Netherlands's Consul General Bart van Bolhuis educates us on the Dutch holiday celebrated in Golden Gate Park on Saturday.

Appropriately situated next to the Dutch Windmill at the Queen Wilhelmina Garden in Golden Gate Park, the Dutch consulate will ring in Koninginnedag, or Queen’s day, this Saturday with music from Amsterdance, a flea market, and Dutch food and drink—all to commerate its monarchy. The current queen is abdicating in 2013, so this will be the last “Queen’s Day” for a while. (But fear not, there will still be a celebration, re-dubbed “King’s Day.”) For an education on the holiday, we caught up with San Francisco's most important representative from the Netherlands: Consul General Bart van Bolhuis. He tells us to how to be really Dutch. Tip #1: Don’t forget to your bike and don some orange. 

Why should we celebrate the Netherlands?
About 70,000 jobs in California are related to Dutch trade and investments. We’re a relatively small country, but a big economic power. We opened this office here on the first of January in 2010, merging with an economic office in San Mateo. We are dealing mainly with economic activities here, and quite successfully—we’re the third largest investor in this country, creating almost 700,000 jobs over the nation. I'd say that's cause for celebration.

What makes this year special? 
Last year we had about two or three thousand people [in San Francisco] and we expect the same number this year. We also have this great opportunity to link it with the Dutch paintings in the De Young Museum. What we’ll do is celebrate with the De Young—six orange nights starting this Friday, and all the Fridays in May. We’ll start by going to City Hall to raise the Dutch flag (we were invited by the Mayor) red, white, and blue—but also the orange, inspired by our football team. If this city can be green on St. Patrick's day, we think it can be orange on Queen’s day. Look at the Giants!

What in the world is the vrjimarkt? 
That’s a Dutch thing, like a flea market. It’s in our nature, we know we are these traders, pioneers in international business. So everything is trading just for fun and that’s something that we want to do here as well. You’ll see a lot of kids trading their toys. The "vrijmarkt" is probably the cornerstone of the festivities in the Netherlands and in San Francisco. 

How should we get to the event— the Dutch way?
As we are really Dutch, we start, of course, with a bike ride. Expect to see a big number of orange people on the bikes starting at 10 AM from the South Park, past the de Young and finally to the windmill. We do this together with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, good friends, and we’ve been working a lot with them on bike infrastructure. And of course I’ll be on the bike as well, as I bike every day to work.

Check out this schedule of events, and see you on Saturday!

 

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