Although this family is becoming known
for their ever-expanding annual Sunflower
Festival still within its first decade of
operation, their family’s farm history
goes way back. Beaver Dam Farm has been
a part of the Wickline family since 1900.
It began as a tomato canning factory, then
in 1927, became a dairy. By 1949 Beaver Dam
Farm consisted of a herd of about 30 Guernsey
heifers, cows and calves. Due to ever rising
production costs and labor, the dairy closed
in 2019 causing the family to re-evaluate some
necessary changes. At the time, the herd consisted
of about 110 head of Holstein cattle. Beaver Dam Farm
currently runs a beef operation along with hay, straw
There are 49 species of bumblebees in the United States. Bumblebees are important pollinators of
many native temperate flowering plants and certain crops. They are particularly effective at
pollinating crops in greenhouses. Managed bumblebees are increasingly being used to support
agricultural and horticultural production.
This cabbage white butterfly is a female (identified by the pair of spots on the forewings, whereas
a male only has one spot on fore- and hind wings). The adult is very active during the daylight
hours, often moving from the crop to flowering weeds sipping nectar. The adult typically lives about
Corn earworm is considered by some to be the most costly crop pest in North America. It is more
damaging in areas where it successfully overwinters; in northern areas it may arrive too late to
inflict extensive damage. It often attacks valuable crops, and the harvested portion of the crop.
Grasshoppers are distributed worldwide and occasionally reach serious pest outbreak status causing
major crop loss. Occasionally, large flights of grasshoppers are detected on radar. Grasshoppers
grow well on single plant diets of common sunflower, soybean, and wheat plants. The preference of
the differential grasshopper is for wilted or damaged sunflower, often observed in the field. We
assume this is due to chemical changes in the wilted tissues resulting in increases in sugars and
These beetles feed on the pollen and nectar, but may also prey on aphids and caterpillars. Adults
may be seen from July to September but are most abundant in August. They can be found in meadows,
fields, and in gardens. They do no damage to the plants and do not bite or sting.
It may be the most familiar North American butterfly, and is considered an iconic pollinator
species. During the fall migration, monarchs cover thousands of miles, with a corresponding
multi-generational return north.
This species was introduced and intentionally brought to North America to reduce aphid populations.
It has a broad ecological range, generally living where there are aphids for it to eat in meadows,
fields, gardens, Western European broadleaf forests, and mixed forests.
A naturalized species introduced to North America from Europe in the early 1600s. European honey
bees are an established component of the United States’ agricultural system. In fact, pollination by
honey bees contributes significantly to global food production. Bees pollinate more than 30% of the
food we eat, and in the United States it is estimated that bees pollinate up to $15 billion worth of
crops each year. In addition to providing pollination services, honey bees also produce other
products that people use including honey, pollen, wax, royal jelly, and propolis. The festival
brings in 80,000+ bees each year to help with sunflower pollination and to produce sunflower honey.
Our festival offers lots of activities to do while visiting on the weekends! Live music,
children’s activities, annual festival t-shirts, educational booths on agriculture, face
painting, craft and food vendors, tons of photo booth opportunities, hay rides and we can’t
forget over 600,000+ sunflowers to see!
Our vendors all go through a juried selection process to
ensure that we have the best of the best. From quality to creativity the selection of handmade
crafts you will find is unlike any other. For 2021 we have over 80 handmade crafters and food
vendors, all offering something different and unique.
While at the festival you can purchase
some of our sunflower products like; sunflowers by the stem, sunflower seed packets to plant and
20 pound bags of black oil sunflower bird seed.
On Tuesday and Friday we
host a Sunflowers at Sunset catered dinner. This is an
intimate setting of about 40 guests with a sit down meal
provided by the Mill Creek Mission Team. The funds raised
from this meal help them to renovate and send children
to school in the Dominican Republic.
We have a few nights of our
ever popular goat yoga. A nearby farm will bring in their
baby and momma goats while we have a certified instructor
lead yoga. Once our yoga session is over there is time to
play with and cuddle all of the goats.
If goat yoga doesn’t interest
you we have a regular sunset yoga class that we’re sure will
leave you feeling calm and relaxed.
During the weekdays we also like
to treat those that might not otherwise be able to make it to
the festival on the weekends. We hold three special days; one
for preschoolers, one for senior citizens and one for special
needs children and adults. These days allow these groups to
move around more freely without all the hustle and bustle
that the normal festival may provide. These groups can
visit at their own pace and not be overwhelmed by all
the noise and crowds present during the weekends.
We will be offering a VIP night
this year the Friday before we open to the public. There will
be a limited number of tickets sold online and each vendor will
offer discounts for a unique shopping experience. It will be a
great time to take advantage and stock up on gifts for the
We are also open to the
public during weeknights (except for Tuesdays and Fridays) for
visitors to come out.
September 17, 2016 was the day Candace Monaghan’s dream became a reality. The Beaver Dam
Sunflower Festival was officially open for business. Fast forward six years, Candace and her
family now host the largest sunflower and artisan festival on the East Coast, and if you ask
her, this is only the beginning.
In 2015 Frank Preston Wickline III decided he would plant a few acres of sunflowers to see
they would take to the land and how they would produce. To their surprise, not only had the
sunflowers harvested well and provided a good source of income for the farm, the beautiful
blooms caught widespread attention from the local community. The family decided it only made
sense to plant them again the following year.
Two weeks before the sunflowers were to bloom, Candace approached her dad, Preston, and said
think we could charge people to come see these flowers.” His reaction was less than ideal to
the least. If you are not familiar with farmers, most like to keep to themselves and
do not like people wandering all over their property. Preston reluctantly agreed and Candace
went to work planning and preparing.
Candace’s goal was to reach 300 people in those seven hours of operation. One of her
memories from that first year was when her brother called her from the parking lot and said
“Look at this line, we have cars lined up to get in here!!” In that moment she knew they
to something amazing. That day they saw family, friends, community members and outside
from a range of 11 states total. The day ended with 1,600 visitors as her aunt embraced
with tears of joy and said “I guess we will do this again next year.”
From peaceful walks through the sunflowers with staged photo opportunities throughout to the
sights and sounds of children laughing and couples strolling hand in hand. Live music
in the background with an occasional distant roar of the tractor giving people hay rides to
painting and photographers spread among the fields capturing the stillness in time of
and families alike. Whether it be burgers, BBQ, or burritos to deep fried Oreos, cotton
or kettle corn, there’s a variety of mouth-watering options for even the pickiest palate.
vendors and volunteers bring welcome and warmth to your visit. Many vendors allot special
prior to the event crafting sunflower-specific crafts making for unique souvenirs and gift
Outside of the festival itself, Beaver Dam Farm Sunflowers’ opens the sunflower fields
those two weeks to bless others through smaller and more unique events. They make time to
exclusively for adults and children with special needs who otherwise would not be able to
tolerate the volume of a normal festival. From preschoolers to senior citizens, Candace’s
is prioritized to host these small groups who otherwise might not have gotten this
There’s goat yoga, sunset dinner among the sunflowers, and paint nights, all of which are
memorable events. Four scholarships are given each year to two deserving high school
and two local non-profits. Following the festival season, nothing goes to waste; the seeds
harvested and packaged into 20 pound bags and sold wholesale to local distributors as black
The annual Sunflower Festival is Candace Monaghan’s love letter to her community and the
around her. Beaver Dam Farm believes this has not only been a blessing to their farm, but a
gateway to give back through many opportunities to make a difference in the lives and
of others. Beaver Dam Farm Sunflowers’ uses their online platform to support not only their
vendors but also organizations they support such as FFA and 4H year round.
Admission has grown to tens of thousands. Candace can’t wait to see what the future holds and
incredibly humbled by the ability to experience full circle moments receiving blessings of
magnitude that she and her family can be a blessing to others.
Whether it be a day trip or a weekend getaway, Beaver Dam Farm Sunflower Festival is an
experience well worth the travel as Botetourt County creates a vacation experience filled
fresh mountain air and unforgettable views. Bordered by the Blue Ridge Parkway, Appalachian
Trail, and the James River, there’s a sport available to any outdoor enthusiast. There’s few
locations where a sunrise or sunset will take your breath away. Hiking, biking, kayaking,
tubing, fishing, the list goes on not to mention sports and shopping or well-known breweries
Why not reserve your September for Sunflowers? It’s sure to be an experience you’ll never
While there are other agritourism venues out there we pride ourselves on the fact that we
a unique, lasting agritourism experience that both supports the livelihoods of area artisans
fosters a philanthropic approach to community vibrancy. Our goal is to make this a long
event to be around for future generations and to help support our family farm.
We encourage you to take a
Sunflower photo and share it with us for a chance
to be featured in next year’s Gallery
The sunflower is native to
North America and was first grown as a crop by indigenous
tribes over 4,500 years ago. Native Americans cultivated
the sunflower from its original bushy, multi-headed type
to produce a single-stemmed plant bearing a large flower.
Sunflowers are heliotropic, which means that they turn
their flowers to follow the movement of the sun across
the sky east to west, and then return at night to face
the east, ready again for the morning sun.
Heliotropism happens during the earlier stages
before the flower grows heavy with seeds.
Its scientific name comes from the Greek words helios
(“sun”) and anthos (“flower”). The flowers come
in many colors (yellow, red, orange, maroon,
brown), but they are commonly bright yellow
with brown centers that ripen into heavy heads
filled with seeds.
Sunflower seeds can be turned into products like oil, birdseed, and butter.
Today, sunflower oil is a food, a medicine, and a skin treatment. It is available in several
each with a different formula and with its own health benefits. Sunflower oil is a popular
oil in the kitchen because of its mild flavor and high smoke point. Sunflower oil has many
benefits because it is low in saturated fat and high in two types of fatty acids,
fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids.
The petals of a sunflower can be used to make dye for fabrics or to make
color. Sunflower petal infused oil can be used to make salves, lip balm, body butters, beard
hair care products, lotion bars, soaps, and more.
The sunflower leaves can be crushed and ground up and can be used as a
on sores, swellings, snakebites and spider bites. This poultice can also be used for arthritis,
as a dressing on the forehead to help cure headaches.
The stem of the sunflower plant has one of the lightest substances known to
it’s the pith. It has a gravity of 0.028 and is light enough to be used as a raw material for
manufacture of microscopic slides. The stem can also be used to make paper. The pith can be
and processed to release the lignin and processed to release fiber that can be processed into
The roots of a sunflower have been very effective in cleaning contaminated
that have been polluted by chemical spillages, radioactive substances, or oil spillages. The
absorb the harmful substances, and the leaves release or store them. The sunflower’s root system
also produce toxins that are harmful to other plants, they are natural herbicides that help
weed growth without the need for chemicals and herbicides.
Find a sunny spot! Sunflowers grow best in locations with direct sunlight (6 to 8
per day); they require long, hot summers to flower well.
Choose a location with well-draining soil so water doesn’t pool after it rains.
Sunflowers aren’t picky but the soil can’t be too compact. They have long taproots
need to stretch out.
Sunflowers thrive in slightly acidic to somewhat alkaline soil (ph 6.0 to 7.5).
Sunflowers are heavy feeders, so the soil needs to be nutrient-rich with organic
or composted (aged) manure. You could also work in a slow release granular fertilizer 8 inches
into your soil.
If possible, plant sunflowers in a spot that is sheltered from strong winds,
along a fence or near a building. Larger varieties may become top-heavy and a strong wind can
While the plant is small, water around the root zone, about 3 to 4 inches from the
plant. To protect the plant, it may help to put snail or slug bait around the stem.
Once the plant is established, water deeply though infrequently to encourage deep
rooting. Unless the weather is exceptionally wet or dry, water once a week with several gallons
Feed plants only sparingly; overfertilization can cause stems to break in the fall.
can add diluted fertilizer into the water, though avoid getting the fertilizer near the plant’s
base; it may help to build a moat in a circle around the plant about 18 inches out.
Tall species require support. Bamboo stakes or tomato stakes are a good choice for
plant that has a strong, single stem and needs support for a short period of time.
Birds, squirrels and deer will show interest in the seeds. If you plan to use the
deter critters with barrier devices. As seed heads mature and flowers droop, you can cover each
with bird netting.
If you have deer, keep them at bay with a tall wire barrier. Curious deer may bite
heads off of young sunflowers.
Sunflowers are relatively insect-free. A small gray moth sometimes lays its eggs in
blossoms. Pick the worms from the plants. Grasshoppers may also cause harm.
Downy mildew, rust, and powdery mildew can also affect the plants. If fungal
are spotted early, spray with a general garden fungicide.
Let the flower dry on or off the stem until the back of the head turns brown, the
foliage turns yellow, the petals die down, and the seeds look plump and somewhat loose.
With sharp scissors or pruners, cut the head off the plant (about 6 inches below the
Alternatively, you can cut the flower head early and hang the heads upside down
the seeds are dry; hang indoors or in a place that’s safe from birds and mice. It is best to
brown paper bag (not plastic) over the head to catch any seeds that might fall out.
To remove the seeds, simply rub your hand over the seeded area and pull them off the
plant or you can use a fork. Another way to remove them is to rub the head of the sunflower
an old washboard or something similar. Just grip the head and rub it across the board as if you
Rinse sunflower seeds thoroughly then lay out to dry for several hours
If you’re saving seeds to replant, store them in an airtight container in a cool,
place until you are ready to plant.