The first few buds have arrived with gorgeous precision, all set to help the Bergsbaken family prepare for one of the best Sunflower Festival in all the land.
The rest of the sunflowers will bloom exactly on time for the Eighth Annual Sunflower Fest, which takes place this weekend, July 28, 29 and 30, at Bergsbaken Farms, just east of Cecil, Wisconsin.
It’s hard to imagine a happier, or more beautiful, place than Bergsbaken Farms during the Sunflower Festival, where 35 acres of sunflowers light up the landscape like a thousand perfect smiles. The festival, which draws people from all corners of the globe, includes live music, wagon rides, a giant corn pit, burgers, brats, beverages, ice cream and scenic vistas everywhere you turn. The family and dog-on-a-leash friendly party has grown bigger and even more enjoyable each year.
This year, country music star Jordan Blanchard will play Friday afternoon, bluegrass band Biscuit Creek performs on Saturday and The Mix, a Polka Band, plays on Sunday.
So renown has the Bergsbaken Sunflower Festival become, that it’s hard to imagine it began with an idle visit to a local hardware store nearly a decade ago.
“I was in Qualheim’s (True Value Hardware Store) one day and I saw some sunflower seeds there and I said to myself, ‘How hard could it be to grow them,'” said Lee Bergsbaken who, with his brother Dale and their families, hosts the festival every year. “So, I planted 10 acres. I didn’t even know how we were going to harvest them. It kind of took off from there.”
These days, Bergsbaken Farms sells sunflower seeds, cold pressed sunflower oil, whole shelled corn and cracked corn throughout the year and host their famous festival each July.
Up to and throughout the festival, both Lee and Dale field phone calls from people from all over the world. They’ve had visitors from Japan, France, Norway and China. In one afternoon last year, a parking lot volunteer counted cars from 29 different states.
“I got a call last year from a woman who wanted to know if I could pick her up in the parking lot. Her husband was 87-years old and she didn’t think he’d be able to walk to the fields,” Lee said. “So, I picked them up in my side-by-side. It turns out they were from Hawaii.”
Lee, Dale and Lee’s son in-law Jason plant the sunflowers and manage the festival logistics. Lee’s wife Betty Ann, to whom he has been married for 50 years, and their daughter Lisa fashion all the really cute props that make photo ops so fun throughout the fields. Dale’s wife of 42 years Shari coordinates all the craft vendors, musicians, equipment rentals, food and supply orders.
We have a blast at the Bergsbaken Sunflower Festival every year, and we’re planning a couple of visits this year too.
We hope to see you there!