Candace Monaghan, who organized the Sunflower Festival on her family’s Beaver Dam Farm near Buchanan, said her goal for the second annual event was to have 3,000 people enjoy the 20 acres of sunflowers and a couple dozen vendors who were set up in part of the chopped cornfield that had surrounded the sunflowers.
Those 3,000 came and then some.
“We hit 10K! I’m amazed,” she said in an email about the agritourism event she finally convinced her family to hold last September.
“I kept watching the lines thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, where are these people coming from?’”
Saturday was so successful that all food vendors ran out of food and lots of the crafters had to go home that night because they ran out also, Monaghan said.
“My sweet candlemaker left shortly after lunch because she sold out of everything she brought.”
Sunday was more of the same: food vendors all sold out and that was with eight different groups selling food so it’s not like there was a shortage, she said. And again, some crafters sold out, too.
James River High School and Lord Botetourt High School FFA chapters were among the food vendors. JRHS FFA reported raising $1,582 that will help with its trip to the National FFA Convention next month in Indianapolis, Ind. where the chapter will be competing in a series of national competitions, including for the top chapter in the county.
The tally for the chapter: 750 hot dogs, 320 ears of corn, 420 sodas and 400 bottles of water.
The LBHS FFA was cooking and selling pork chop sandwiches and dinners, and Advisor Stuart Byrd was busy on the grill just after noon Saturday readying as many of the sandwiches as he could because the first 100 went so fast that he wondered if the 200 he brought would make through the afternoon.
Monaghan said the vendors were excited about the event. “As they were all leaving so many of them said, ‘This was outstanding and such and honor to be here, please have us back next year.’
“I’m still trying to wrap my head around what happened but as I stood there watching the masses of people stroll happily through the gates, I couldn’t stop my wheels from turning on new ideas and layouts for next year.”
Monaghan said she learned a lot more this year with this many people at the event.
“All family and volunteers that stepped up to the plate for the weekend helped the festival to go smoothly, and as traffic was backed up north and south on US 11 and I frantically called several friends to park cars and they also without hesitation ran to the rescue,” she said.
“There’s always before-hand, behind-the-scene work that goes on to prepare and those are the few that I couldn’t have done without,” she said.
As for next year’s festival? “Let planning for 2018 begin,” she said.