'Spectacular blankets of color': Richardson Farm in McHenry County opens this weekend for first-ever sunflower fest
Fiery yellows, brilliant oranges and crimson reds are just a few of the hues to behold as 24 varieties of sunflowers pop against the bright blue August sky in Spring Grove, where velvet queens, ruby eclipses, sun-rich limes and more are planted in a flower pattern over 13 acres at Richardson Farm.
The flowers form an all-new sort of maze to explore at the place best known for being home to the World's Largest Corn Maze. After a bit of breath-holding over whether Mother Nature was going to cooperate, George and Wendy Richardson said the farm -- at 909 English Prairie Road -- will open for its first-ever sunflower fest on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 21- 22.
"Due to the lack of rain this summer the sunflowers are a bit shorter than we expected," said Wendy Richardson, co-owner of Richardson Farm with her husband, George, and other family members. "But we now have some spectacular blankets of color to enjoy, and we look forward to welcoming sunflower fans to our fields."
After the opening weekend, the farm will close to the public Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 23 and 24, then reopen Wednesday through Sunday, Aug. 25-29, she said. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Cost to explore the sunflower maze is $10 for those ages 4 and up, free for those 3 and younger.
The cost includes a free, single stem sunflower to take home. Additional cut flowers will be $1 for a single-flowered stem and $4 for a multi-flowered stem. The admission fee also includes live music by the Thompson Duo on weekend afternoons. There will be Giant Jenga, Giant Connect 4, other outdoor games and a 30-horse carousel for children to enjoy at no extra charge.
A beer and wine tent will be available, as well as an ice cream truck and food trucks.
Richardson Farm also is home to a large gift shop featuring wine tasting and fresh, made-on-the-farm delicacies like apple cider donuts, fudge, caramel corn, cheesy corn and kettle corn. Sunflower-themed original artwork will be available for purchase.
"We have wines from Prairie State Winery in Genoa," George Richardson said. "There are at least nine varieties to try, and they are really excellent."
Parking is free at Richardson Farm. Professional photographers are advised to check richardsonfarm.com for applicable backdrop fees.
The Spring Grove farm has been in the Richardson family since 1836, and is now in its fifth and sixth generations of ownership. Co-owners include Robert and Carol Richardson, George and Wendy Richardson and George's son, Ryan, as well as Ryan's wife, Kristen.
After the sunflower fest ends Aug. 29, the farm will close to the public until Sept. 11, when the 20th anniversary corn maze celebration is set to begin.