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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

20th Annual Sunflower Trail

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Get a taste of the country life at this year’s festivities

Summer has blossomed, along with the celebration of one of the area’s favorite flowers. The & Festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 16 in Gilliam, La. This free event will feature the beloved sunflower trail, live music, arts and crafts vendors, delicious food, baked treats and more.

Karen Logan, a long-term volunteer for two decades, is especially looking forward to the event. “My favorite part of the festival and the Sunflower Trail is seeing the families – children, parents, friends and grandparents – enjoying a day in the country,” Logan said. “Whether it’s having a good time taking pictures in the sunflowers, cutting sunflowers to take home, walking into the sunflower field on Sentell Road or just getting a brief taste of country life, it’s a pleasure to see.”

Logan loves watching people run into old friends, seeing children get their faces painted and do different crafts, receiving balloons from the clown, consuming festival food and buying homemade goodies.

“It’s a great time for people to come out of the city and see the rural area and agricultural life,” Logan said. “They can see the corn and cotton and soybeans in the fields, discover Main Street Restaurant in Gilliam and The Wild Petunia in Belcher, see the country stores and the Lynn Plantation headquarters, etc. There’s something for everyone.”

The festival is free and is come and go between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Live music will be performed. Admission is free and open to the public.

“All ages enjoy the festival,” Logan said. “It’s very family-oriented.” The festival itself is held in a shady area behind the library and the Crossroads Museum on Main Street in Gilliam.

No festival is complete without food, and there will be plenty of it. Food vendors include fried fish from a local church, turkey legs, gator on a stick, stuffed bacon-wrapped chicken, cabbage jambalaya, fresh-squeezed lemonade, meat pies, fried fruit and more.

Main Street Restaurant will also be available with off-the-menu salads and sandwiches, hamburgers and plate lunches. The Wild Petunia will also be selling boxed lunches to go.

Deborah Yarbrough, vendor coordinator, is more than happy to be back on duty for the second year. “We have over 45 vendors participating,” Yarbrough said. “My personal favorite of the festival are the artisans with their own handmade crafts. We have such talented people in our area!” These craft vendors will be on site, offering up their original goods such as bird feeders, home-made jellies and preserves, local honey, jewelry, boutique clothing, original watercolor and glass art, baked goods and yard ornaments.

Back this year is the popular Sunflower Photography Contest, featuring sunflowers in photos. Entry forms and information are available on the Facebook page. There will be awards given during the festival, and all entries will be displayed in the Crossroads Museum in the Shreve Memorial Branch in Gilliam.

New this year is the Sunflower Treasure Hunt. The clues and rules will be posted on the Facebook page the week before the festival. Grand prize is a Sunflower 20th Year T-shirt and $350, to be claimed at the festival on June 16.

“People should come out to see our wonderful country life setting with the sunflowers in full bloom,” Yarbrough said. “It’s a beautiful drive for miles. The festival in Gilliam is a great time to shop, play, eat and just have a great day with the family and, of course, see the sunflowers in full bloom.”

“The Sunflower Trail is open to the public,” Logan explained. “It’s along Highway 3049 and Sentell Road whenever sunflowers are blooming, which is usually during the month of June.”

To drive the Sunflower Trail, turn right at Old Dixie Gin and Sentell Road and drive the loop around the levee. Sentell Road circles back to Highway 3049 at Cornerstone Baptist Church, just north of Dixie. This scenic drive features several beautiful sunflower and wildflower fields. A sunflower maze is also available on Sentell Road, where visitors can walk and take pictures.

Sponsored by the Red River Crossroads Historical & Cultural Association, all proceeds from the Sunflower Trail & Festival benefit the Historical Association – a small non-profit, whose purpose is to research and documents the unique history and culture of small towns along the Red River.

“We also have a Fall Heritage & Harvest Tour,” Logan said. “We place Historic Site markers throughout our communities and along Highway 3049 to recognize historic and significant locations.”

“The 20th Anniversary Sunflower Festival continues to grow in popularity,” Yarbrough said. “We’ve kept things simple all these years, just as in the beginning. Our folks welcome you.”

For more information, visit: www.redrivercrossroadshistorical.org or contact: rrcrha@gmail.com and karenlogan@centurytel.net.

– Betsy St. Amant

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