BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Bundles of yellow petals have started to appear in the 21-acre field in Botetourt County. By mid-September, about 500,000 sunflowers will be in full bloom.
Beaver Dam Farm is gearing up for its annual Sunflower Festival. Candace Monaghan founded the festival in 2016. Each year, the festival became bigger: adding more vendors and activities for people to enjoy. Eventually, the festival was celebrated over the course of two weekends in September.
This year, the festival will be held on the second and third weekend in September. Monaghan says her favorite aspects about the festival:
“The friends that we’ve acquired over the years that come back no matter where they’re from in Virginia; they do travel,” she answered. “And the photos that we see of everybody enjoying the farm. I’d say both of those things.”
However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused some bumps in the road for the event’s organizers. While other events in the Roanoke Valley were canceled due to the virus, Monaghan knew they had to do some problem-solving to keep the festival alive.
“It was never really a thought of that we couldn’t have it,” Monaghan explained. “It was just, kind of, how do we make it happen? Like, it’s going to happen. We’ve just got to work through all the kinks and get to where we need to be.”
When it came time to plan out the festival and make the necessary changes, Monaghan had help from others.
“I spoke to members of the VDH and got some recommendations from them, which was great to make sure we were on the same page and where we needed to be and we got that guidance.”
The biggest obstacle Monaghan faced: attendance. The Beaver Dam Farm Sunflower Festival usually draws thousands of visitors to the area.
“We’ve never had to limit our crowds, but we knew that this year we would have to do that,” she said. “So we moved ticket sales to online, so people can go to our website to order tickets for a two-hour time frame.”
Monaghan says they will offer a limited number of cash tickets at the door.
There will be social distancing guidelines in place, and food vendors will wear masks and gloves at all times. Due to contact issues, a few children’s activities will not happen this year. Otherwise, much of the festival will stay the same.
“We’ll still have all of our food vendors. We have around 68 craft vendors. The flowers, photo booths — all of that is still available.”
As Sept. 12 approaches, a wave of tall yellow flowers will take over the farm. Monaghan looks forward to seeing enjoying themselves among the field of sunflowers.
“Just being able to open up the fields when everybody’s been stuck at home, everybody’s been inside. To get everybody out here in nature and see the views and enjoy each other’s company — social distancing style — we’re just excited about it,” Monaghan said
To purchase tickets and see what other events the Beaver Dam Sunflower Farm has to offer for September, visit their website BeaverDamSunflowers.com.
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