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Everything's coming up tulips

Saturday events wrap up with the Royal Tulip Ball, an evening of dining and dancing to honor the Tulip Queen and court. Tickets are required.

On Sunday, Mother's Day, the main stage musical selections mellow down a bit, featuring a performance by jazz musician Chris Botti. The eighth annual Mother of the Year award will be presented by Bellevue Women's Hospital.

Over at the amphitheater, audiences can enjoy performances by Lara Herscovitch, Johanna, Mudfunk and rock band Stephen Kellogg and The Sixers.

On both Saturday and Sunday, in addition to the music, the Tulip Festival will host more than 100 crafters from all along the Eastern Seaboard, a fine arts show and a KidZone area featuring a stage and tent area. KidZone will have face painters, design-a-doll activities, magic shows and the Tri-City Valley Cats.

And the event's namesake " the tulips " should be popping up for a visit.

This year, the city planted 207,000 tulip bulbs. Cleary said due to the cooler weather, they have gotten a really good start.

"It looks like we're in really good shape for the festival this year," she said. "We're nicely on schedule."

During the festival's 59 years, the event has taken on a new identity.

"Over the years, it has become a rite of spring in the area," said Cleary.

"It began as a celebration of Albany's Dutch heritage," she said, citing the festival's traditional practice of scrubbing the streets before an event " women even scrub in traditional Dutch dress, all the way down to the wooden shoes.

"One of the nice things about (the Tulip Festival) is the basic framework of the event is basically the same, we just change the core of what goes into it," said Cleary.

Visitors who come year after year can still "expect great new things as they're walking through," she added.

Cleary said the Tulip Festival, which draws anywhere from 80,000 to 100,000 people, is one of the city's annual marquee events.

"It's the largest outdoor festival the city puts on," said Cleary. "We're looking forward to a great three-day event." ""

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