Grown Here at Home: Despite ups and downs Sunflower Festival breaks attendance record in second weekend

Updated: Oct. 16, 2023 at 7:00 AM EDT
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BOTETOURT CO., Va. (WDBJ) - The sunflowers at Beaver Dam Farm in Botetourt County aren’t looking so sunny anymore. The drooping flowers are a sign of another Sunflower Festival come and gone.

Like with any event, there were some ups and downs to navigate, but they pushed through and even had record attendance on the second Saturday of the festival.

“We did have some weather issues, but we still had a great year. It wasn’t our best, it wasn’t our worst, so we’re right in the middle,” explained Beaver Dam Farm Sunflower Festival Founder Candace Monaghan.

Just in time for opening day, the sunflowers began to bloom. Candace says it was great to see considering they planted new seed this year.

“We hadn’t planted [this kind of seed] at all in the past. It was from North Dakota, so we didn’t have any growing data here in Virginia on it. Talking with our agronomist here, and the one out in North Dakota, we put our heads together and decided to go with our normal plan, and they started blooming three days before we opened,” she explained.

For now, the main focus is getting seed for next year; and preparing the land for another growing season by harvesting the sunflowers.

“They’ll stay in the field from the end of November or middle of December, depending on how much rain we get. And then we’ll harvest them for bird seed. Then, we’ll come in and open up the ground. We’ll put some lime down and let that sit over winter. That will help prepare the soil for winter,” Candace explained.

You can buy the bird seed at several shops, locally. They’re sold at Northwest Hardware locations, Ikenberry Orchards in Daleville, and The Best Place Antiques store in Buchannan.

“We normally have 15 to 18 pallets with 48 bags on each pallet, and the bags weigh 20 pounds each. It gets us from one year to the next,” Candace said.

While Candance isn’t dealing with the hustle and bustle of a big event, like with any farm, there’s always work to be done.