The Indo Project will be present at this year’s Holland Festival for the 10th time. Last year was TIP’s 10th anniversary, which was celebrated with a successful rebranding. You are invited to come check out TIP’s new booth, new merchandise, and fun activities.
By Jeff Keasberry
Once again, the Dutch and Indo-Dutch community of greater Los Angeles are coming together to celebrate their shared cultural heritage. The Holland Festival has become an annual reunion for many families and friends.
Cor Van Overeem recalls his mother saying back in 1989: “Kom, we gaan naar de Hollandse Pic Nic”. Little did Cor realize then that this Dutch picnic would become a annual family event.
In those days, they would pack their own drinks, carry in their chairs and bring umbrellas, often walking a long way from their parking spot at the rear of the police shooting range. The leisurely walk around the grassy grounds was mandatory during their customary meet-and-greet at the little stands where they could buy practically anything regarding Dutch-Indo heritage—also referred to as knick-knacks.
You could find a wide assortment from gulling pillows, to wooden windmills, and savory sate babi, to layers of spekkoek and orange-colored T-shirts. From imported dry goods and spices, to thick caramel stroopwafels. And do not to forget the ice-cold Heineken beer and the hang-by-the-tail whole ‘nieuwe haring’. Oma and Opa, his parents, were filled with excitement as they recognized longtime friends and shared the ngobrol ngobrol stories that the Oma’s and Opa’s knew and had in common. Cor also recalled the times when they would be introduced to yet another Oom or Tante: “We are now that Oma and Opa as time went by, and year after year we would take over that duty that made us reach out to our community”.
“The Holland Festival is the proper name now and we brought our kids to experience the Dutch-Indo diaspora and cultural exchange. Our bond with the Holland Festival got stronger as we became the torchbearers and became associated with the dedicated groups that made the Holland Festival a success. For many Holland Festival attendees, including myself, it was three kisses on the cheek, the camaraderie, and the chance meeting of friends we had not seen for a year or two or even more. It was an opportunity to reminisce and to be aware and supportive of difficulties experienced in life. Somehow, our friendly banter always comes back to discussing our foods and our families. It is a festival where that loud Indo-Rock band makes everyone sway to and fro to the beat, and the walk of the “achy breaky heart” in perfect unison. When the band takes a break, we welcome listening to the rhythmic sounds of the Old Dutch Street Organ, as if we were back in Amsterdam or Utrecht. We need our youngest generations to partake. Perhaps their social media savvy will bring new loyal faces to the Holland Festival in the future. The Holland Festival was and always will be a very important part of my life because it had the answer to many of my questions about why we are here and what did we bring. I am now the Opa taking my cucus (the fourth generation) to the Holland Festival. It is with much longing to return to the perfect location for a kumpulan, our yearly gathering. I want to be back at the Holland Festival again, with high hopes for the next generation to continue that small flicker of a Dutch-Indo flame.”
Over the years, TIP has become a welcoming sight at the Holland Festival and the audience has come to expect TIP to be there. Always at the same spot—located at the beginning of a row of vendor booths. Four generations of people have been coming to TIP’s booth, to be informed, to have a conversation, and share their stories. TIP is grateful for all the volunteers who have contributed in one way or the other over the years.
Come visit The Indo Project booth and learn more about the mission and what TIP is raising funds for. Show your support by getting some of TIP’s new branded merchandise, like the new flat bill hat, t-shirt, zippered sweater with hood, engraved wooden coasters, and vinyl stickers. Also, for a $5 donation you may ‘spin the wheel’ for a chance to win a prize! Share where your family roots are on the Dutch East Indies Map: write your family name and Post It! Share your pictures of that day on social media with #TheIndoProject. When you sign up to become a monthly donor, you get an exclusive gift. Come and have a chat with one of the volunteers. They’ll be looking forward to seeing you!
For more details about the Holland Festival and to buy tickets online for Express Entrance, go here. Tickets also sold at the entrance at $10/p.
Part of this article was published in the Moesson International, 2nd edition. Go here to subscribe.
Pictures © Andrea Matthies, Saida Kerkhoff, Jeff Keasberry