PARIS, Ill. (AP) — A seemingly endless field of sunflowers is in bloom in east central Illinois, a golden spectacle that’s drawing families from all corners of the Wabash Valley and beyond.
L&A Family Farms just south of Paris, Illinois, is welcoming folks back this year to its annual sunflower maze as the first blooms unfolded.
The fields this year feature 10 total acres across two adjacent five-acre plots. The farm staggered the planting of the two plots to maximize its total bloom time.
The first plot was in full bloom on July 27 and the second followed a week or later, said Everett Lau, marketing manager for the farm.
Ellen Roberts, who visited with her daughter Ava and mother Vicki Cole, said they’ve missed the bloom in years past but were determined not to do so again this year.
“We’ve missed it for the past couple years and we decided we were going to see it before it was gone this year,” said Roberts, of Saint Joseph, Illinois.
Lau said a sunflower bloom may only last 10 days, if weather cooperates. That unusually small window makes visiting that much more special, Roberts said.
“We knew it was going to be really hot today, but we knew we needed to come when we could to catch it in full bloom,” he said days after the first bloom.
“And it’s been well worth it,” added Cole.
Lau said the farm has made some COVID-19 considerations, like making this year’s event feature a one-way path through the fields and not a maze as in years past.
He said the change is to prevent people from having to double back from a dead end and create logjams throughout that would have made distancing difficult.
The family has added touches of levity to the year’s change with guide signs throughout the field that direct the flow of traffic and have, “Share the love of sunflowers, not COVID-19,” written on them.
Maze or not, Karen Hogancamp said traveling from Lowell, Indiana — some three hours north of the farm — was well worth seeing her favorite flower in bloom.
And it’s something to do while new COVID-19 cases are on the rise, said Hogancamp’s daughter, Ashley Carew.
“It’s one of the few things still open,” Carew said. “You can get outside and get some sun and still be out and away from people.”
Lau said offering families the opportunity to stretch their legs and experience a little slice of farm life is what L&A Family Farms is all about.
“We love giving people the opportunity to come out here and escape the big city and get a taste of what farm life is like,” Lau said.
“... And when it’s in full bloom like it is today, people will come from all over just see the sunflowers, walk the fields and get those pictures for Instagram.”
Source: Terre Haute Tribune-Star, https://bit.ly/2Xcap09