Governor Youngkin has announced that Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) awarded more than $2.7 million for 259 local and regional tourism marketing programs across the state to help increase visitation and revenue for Virginia’s localities through tourism.
Beaver Dam Farm Sunflowers in Botetourt County received a $20,000 grant for its September 2022 Sunflower Festival and Vendor Show. The farm then leveraged $20,000 in matching funds, showcasing over 105 vendors in the Largest Sunflower Festival and Vendor Show on the East Coast.
For the September 2022 festival new advertising dollars will be spent to pull in traffic from targeted areas outside of the local reach. Targeted ads and social media will reach Charlottesville, Richmond, Winchester, Fairfax and surrounding areas. Attracting crowds outside of their market will help to bring in more revenue to the community through gas expenses, overnight stays and meals. Surrounding local shops also benefit from the added foot traffic.
“Botetourt County has long been known for its agriculture and now is also becoming a tourist destination. Beaver Dam Farm Sunflowers is a true example of agri-tourism at its best. We are so proud of the dedicated work that Candace and her family have done with the annual Sunflower Festival and we are thrilled that she is being recognized at the state level with a Virginia Tourism Corporation Grant to help grow the event,” said Botetourt County Board of Supervisors Chair Dr. Richard Bailey. “Candace is a leader in our community and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for the festival and for her family farm.”
“The Sunflower Festival exemplifies the region’s agritourism, drawing tens of thousands of visitors each year to Botetourt County and Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Adding new marketing dollars into promoting the 2022 festival will undoubtedly enhance visibility, increase attendance and economic impact,” stated Landon Howard, president of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
“These grant funds provide an important opportunity for communities across the Commonwealth to accelerate recovery efforts and continue with their best-in-class marketing initiatives to attract new travelers,” said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism. “Increased visitation translates directly into revenue generation, underscoring tourism’s important role in stimulating economic growth and expansion”
The VTC Regional Marketing Program aims to help Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) drive overnight visitation and to supplement funding for economically significant special events and festivals in order to increase overnight visitation. The DMO funding is projected to drive more than 125,000 room nights over the next 18 months.
The Beaver Dam Farm Sunflower Festival helps to diversify the family farm income. The farmland was purchased in 1900, was a tomato cannery in 1916 and began as a dairy in 1927. In September of 2019 the farm sold out of the dairy industry and now runs beef cattle and has a hay and straw operation. The farm is still owned and operated by the family today.
In 2015, 20 acres of black oil sunflowers were planted. As a result of the beautiful scenery, the following year the fields were opened up for visitors to walk through and admire. Visitors also enjoyed hayrides, farm animals to pet, and numerous craft and food vendors.
Today, the festival has widely expanded with weekend activities consisting of hay wagon rides, a farm animal petting area, over 105 unique handmade craft and food vendors, photo booths and live music. During the weekdays the farm offers 3 field trip opportunities for preschoolers, senior citizens and special needs kids and adults. They also have popular catered sunset dinners in the sunflowers and “goat yoga.”
Once the festival is over, the crowds have diminished and the sunflowers have all dropped their heads the farm will harvest the seed and bag it into black oil sunflower birdseed. Beaver Dam Farm sunflower seeds can be found in Northwest Hardware locations, Ikenberry Orchards and The Best Place antique store. They also seed packets so customers can plant their own seeds in their gardens.