The Western District Historical Society (WDHS) is once again providing the community with a fantastic photo opportunity. On August 16 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. the sunflower field will be open at Legacy Farms for people to enjoy and take pictures.

WDHS member and head of the sunflower field project Darlene Domaschuk explained this is the fifth year they've hosted the sunflower field, and as usual it will be free to attend, although donations to help cover costs would be greatly appreciated.

"We don't charge, we just have a donation box at the gate and if people choose to donate, that's wonderful. And whoever donates, we have a draw for a beautiful sunflower picture," she said.

This year's field is looking as beautiful as ever, so much so that Domaschuk said they've also received plenty of interest from professional photographers and event photography to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity!

This is despite several challenges the WDHS faced when growing the field, several of which were weather-related. Because of that, August 16 is the only date booked for public availability, although the hope is to have the field available a few more evenings during the summer and early fall, including a tentative date scheduled for August 22.  

"We're just going to kind of keep an eye on the field and see how the heat does, we don't want people to show up and be disappointed if the flowers aren't as beautiful as they would expect."

While the heat has definitely played a role in the challenges of growing a sunflower field, Domaschuk said that has largely been ok, as the field has irrigation so watering the flowers hasn't been a big issue. However, the flowers have dealt with a few bugs that thrive in the heat, so the heat indirectly causes problems that way.

Earlier in the year gophers chewing on the plants was also a problem, although now that the sunflowers are taller that hasn't been as big of an issue.

While pesticides and poison for the gophers could be a possible solution to these problems, Domaschuk said the WDHS doesn't want to resort to doing that.

"People say 'Why don't you spray for the bugs or poison the gophers?' Well, we're surrounded by a pasture, it's farmland, and you really can't control the gophers, it's their land. And we're not about to start spraying for the bugs, it's just very costly and we don't even know what really would kill these bugs."

The WDHS opens the sunflower field every year because they enjoy giving the community the chance to create some memories with the family and enjoy a night in a beautiful field. Growing and maintaining the field takes a lot of work and Domaschuk said the seeds alone cost around $300-400 every year, so any donations are a huge help to cover costs and ensure the WDHS can keep bringing back the sunflower field year after year.

The Legacy Farm sunflower field is located at 1001 East Pine Road, and Domaschuk said you can watch Facebook and the Strathmore Now events page to stay up to date with future dates and times. She added the WDHS is also growing pumpkins in the field, and they're currently planning on how they will distribute those.

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