An acre of farmland covered by 30,000 sunflowers will soon be open for photos, outdoor games and picnics.
Golden Grove Farm's fifth annual Sunflower Festival, located 4950 E. State Highway KK, Fair Grove, will be held in mid-to-late July. Dates for the festival have yet to be determined, as they are dependent on weather.
This year's festival is 12 days, the longest yet. Previously, Golden Grove Farm held the festival for five to seven days.
Kelley Nichols, Golden Grove Farm co-owner, and her husband Nelson were inspired to start the festival after a visit to San Francisco. Kelley said nearly every street corner market displayed a variety of flowers, including ornamental sunflowers. Ornamental plants are those grown for decorative purposes.
In the past, Nelson grew sunflowers for the purpose of harvesting seeds, rather than for decoration. But once the couple learned about the popularity of ornamental sunflower patches across the country, they began to grow their own on their farm in Fair Grove.
In 2014, Kelley and Nelson began to sell their flowers at farm stands, before hosting their first festival in 2017.
Twelve different sunflower varieties will be on display at this year's festival. In total, about 70 species of sunflowers exist. The common sunflower — named conveniently — features a large head and tall stem.
During the festival, guests are invited to take photos and enjoy outdoor games, including wiffle ball, golf and hula hoops. Ice cream, snacks and beverage are also available.
For those wishing to take a piece of the experience home, guests can cut their own sunflowers for $1 each. Flowers like cosmos and dahlias will also be available for floral arrangements.
Bringing the farm to life, the festival will feature several local musicians in the evenings. A performance list has yet to be determined.
For Kelley and Nelson, creating a fun, relaxing environment for folks is important but so is supporting organizations important to them. Golden Grove Farm's Sunflower Festival supports the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Chron's and Colitis Foundation. Kelley said a portion of the festival's profits are donated to these organizations. And each year, Nelson hosts a pulled pork donation dinner, in which all profits are donated.
Festival admission is $5 per adult and free for children under the age of 16 are free.
The festival is open 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. If someone has an interest in visiting the farm before festival hours — Kelley said photographers often like to take photos as the sun rises — they should email the farm at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Kelley at 417-631-2407. Admission outside of festival hours is $25.
This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Sunflower Festival in Fair Grove to feature 30,000 sunflowers