From tulips to sunflowers, Alexis Szarek continues to put smiles on people’s faces.
Szarek closed the popular Abbotsford Tulip Festival to the North Okanagan when she and her young family relocated to the Township of Spallumcheen in late 2020. They started the first Bloom Sunflower Festival in the North Okanagan at a farm on Knob Hill Road which is open to the public daily from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. until Tuesday, Aug. 31.
“We have four acres of sunflowers blooming,” said Szarek on her 32nd birthday Tuesday, Aug. 24. “Three acres are filled with yellow sunflowers called Solano. There’s a half-acre field of the red variety and a half-acre you-pick field.”
Szarek and husband, Marc, ran the Abbotsford Tulip Festival for four years. They would have made five had it not been for COVID-19, which shut festival plans in 2020, then the couple moved to the North Okanagan. They plan to bring the tulip festival back to this region in 2022.
Information on the local sunflower festival can be found at bloomflowerfestivals.com, where tickets to wander through the flowers can be purchased (there’s a discount available in you purchase tickets online rather than at the gate).
There are special prices for Locals Night, which has been running on Tuesday, so there’s one left on Aug. 31. The last field entry daily is at 6:30 p.m. but you can stay until the sun goes down behind the mountains, around 7:30 p.m. (ish).
Family Days are Fridays.
Reaction to the Sunflower Festival, said Szarek, has been fantastic.
“People seem to be loving it,” she said. “Before we opened, there was quite a bit of smoke and everybody was nervous about it, but there’s been lots of blue sky, lots of cloud and the weather has been gorgeous.
“Attendance has been lower than we projected but that’s to be expected when the province is asking people not to travel due to COVID and wildfires, which absolutely makes sense, so that’s impacted the attendance of the festival.”
Among those strolling through the sunflowers Tuesday, Aug. 24, were friends Maddy Terleski and Cassidy Bruce of Vernon.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” said Terleski of the row-upon-row of yellow flowers.
“Very cute,” chipped in Bruce.
Szarek is a third-generation flower grower. She is the former chairperson of the BC Young Farmers and a board member/BC-Alberta representative of the Canadian Young Farmers Forum.
She won the 2016 Abbotsford Business Excellence Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, was a 2017 Business Excellence Tourism nominee, and picked up the 2017 University of Fraser Valley Distinguished Alumni Award.