Weekender: Massive sunflower displays beckon visitors

Lose yourself in the transformative beauty of fields of sunflowers, some posing the challenge of a maze, others home to trails traversing a magical landscape. They are sprouting at locations across the region, with many of the destinations offering farm-fresh wares and additional attractions.

CARROLL COUNTY

Straddle Creek Gardens

25269 Locust Road, Lanark

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Aug. 4

$7, free for children age 5 and younger

www.straddlecreekgardens.com, tinyurl.com/6jjv52cy, 815-275-7930

New visual props in the sunflower maze are the VW Sunflower Happy Bus and a yellow VW Beetle. Visitors are welcome to bring drinks, take photos and walk around the maze at their leisure. They are asked to wear closed-toe shoes. You can pick sunflowers and zinnias for an extra fee, and should bring water and a container for your blooms.

McHENRY COUNTY

Von Bergen’s Country Market

9805 Route 173, Hebron

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday to Sunday, weather permitting

$8 for adults Monday-Thursday, $6 for children 3 to 12, free for younger kids; $12 and $10, respectively, Friday-Sunday

www.vonbergens.com/sunflower-festival, www.facebook.com/pg/VonBergens, 815-648-2332

Promising 30 acres of sunshine at its Sunflower Festival, Von Bergen’s Country Market planted the flowers in succession, hoping to get a seamless season with at least one maze open at all times. Ticket sales to the Sunflower Festival will end one hour prior to closing. A tractor tram offers rides to the mazes, and the country market sells farm-fresh vegetables, fruit and local artisan products.

Richardson Adventure Farm

909 English Prairie Road, Spring Grove

Full bloom expected in August; check Facebook updates

Will open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday

$12 Wednesday-Friday, $15 weekends, including one bloom; free for ages 3 and younger

richardsonadventurefarm.com/SunflowerFestival/Home, www.facebook.com/richardsonfarmexperience, 815-675-9729

New this August will be the Richardson Sunflower Festival, featuring 13 acres of sunflowers planted in a whimsical design with 3.2 miles of trail to stroll. The display provides 25 varieties of blooms in orange, yellow, gold, red and peach, and a pick-your-own area. The event offers food trucks, a gift shop, beer and wine tent, and free use of picnic tables. Activities include free carousel rides, animals in the barn, games, and live music on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Friendly dogs on a leash are welcome

LaSALLE COUNTY

Matthiessen State Park

Next to remote-control airplane field, 2433 Route 178, Oglesby

7 a.m. to sunset daily through early August

Free

www2.illinois.gov/dnr/Parks/Pages/Matthiessen.aspx

A picturesque, 60-acre sunflower field of towering blooms sits next to the takeoff and landing field for remote-control airplanes at Matthiessen State Park, open through early August. Anyone planning a professional photography session must apply for a filming and activity permit through the park office in advance. The sunflower field is near the southeastern Vermilion River area entrance of the park on Route 178, about 1.5 miles south of the intersection with Route 71. Once you’re in the park, follow the sunflower signage pointing you toward the parking lot.

WILL COUNTY

M&D Farms and Garden Center

14946 S. Bell Road, Homer Glen

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

$5, free for children age 3 and younger

www.manddfarmandgardencenter.com, 708-935-1715

As a prelude to its big August field of blooms, M&D Farms and Garden Center opened “Sunflower of Color,” a small patch that has different color, shorter sunflowers in red, orange and white. There, you can enjoy the you-pick experience, with each stem priced at $3. Field access ends a half hour before closing.

KANE COUNTY

Wiltse’s Farm Produce

50W379 Route 38, Maple Park

9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

$2 to view blooms; sunflower picking starts at $5

815-739-6179, www.facebook.com/wiltsefarm, www.wiltsefarm.com

The sunflower patch offers photo opportunity areas set up to help people capture beautiful images. Picking sunflowers, as well as zinnias and mixed flowers also is offered. People are encouraged to bring their own buckets and cutters. Check back for latest hours after mid-August.

Goebbert’s Pumpkin Patch and Apple Orchard

42W813 Reinking Road, Pingree Grove

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily

$5, free for children age 2 and younger

www.goebbertspumpkinpatch.com, www.facebook.com/Goebberts, 847-464-5952

The Sunflower Maze offers 4 acres of bright sunflowers. Be prepared with sunscreen, bug spray and water. New this year, you can cut your own sunflower blooms, with small ones priced at four for $1, and large blooms at two for $1. The farm stand also is open.

DeKALB COUNTY

Kuipers Family Farm

1N145 Watson Road, Maple Park

Aug. 28 to about Sept. 12

Last admission to the field at 5 p.m. weekdays, 5:30 p.m. weekends

$14.99, including one bloom, $2 per extra bloom; free admission for ages 2 and younger

www.kuipersfamilyfarm.com/sunflowers, www.facebook.com/kuipersfamilyfarm, 815-827-5200

Visitors can enjoy over 5 acres of diverse sunflower varieties in the fields, with photo opportunities available. The experience goes full bloom on weekends with live music and farm-fresh food options on the orchard lawn. Packages can be combined with apple picking and train rides.