This is a lengthy post, but I couldn't decide how to make it any shorter and still share our day with you. So either enjoy, or feel free to drop off at any point.
Bright and early is the only way to do an outdoor activity in Louisiana this time of the year, so that's what we did.
It is an easy 45-minute drive to the small town of Gilliam, La. for the actual Festival and a fun “day in the country.”
But, we weren't in a hurry so took a very leisure drive and enjoyed the scenery.
The Sunflower Trail & Festival started with farmer Gordon Boogaerts who, with a hobby for painting and photography, planted some sunflowers at his home (just north of Shreveport) and invited friends to enjoy their beauty.
Area farmers and plantation owners soon joined the fun and now volunteers and members of the community join them in planting sunflower seeds each year at their homes and alongside the country roads. These patches of flowers create the stunning and serene sunflower trails that this part of the Trail is known for.
Soon it became so well-liked that the Red River Crossroads organization decided to make the sunflower viewing into an annual event for everyone to enjoy.
Visitors can stop on the edge of an open field or trail and easily walk through and enjoy being among these amazing sunflowers reaching to the sky.
There is something so fun and happy about being surrounded by these brightly-colored flowers.
This section of the trail, follows the levy of the Red River which provides irrigation for this large farming area.
We found an open gate that led to a road along the top of the levy. Being the adventurous Senior Adults that we are, we decided why not take it and get a higher vantage point overlooking the fields and the river.
After following this narrow dusty path for about a mile, we wondered if we would have to go all the way back to Shreveport before we found an exit. There certainly wasn't room to turn around up there. YIKES!
Not long after discussing this, we came upon a locked gate across the road that meant we had very few options for getting back to where we started. Backing up that far wasn't the most viable. So guess what!
You're right, we had to turn around. Our car was as long as the ridge was wide. So it had to be done VERY CAREFULLY!
But Dick did a great job with Tom outside the car guiding him.
Although that part was scary, the views of the acres and acres of cotton fields and sunflowers and lazy Red River were worth it.
Just down the road we entered the tiny village of Belcher and saw this little mini flea market.
Belcher is a neat once prosperous little place based strictly on the farming economy.
There were several vendors here selling anything from home-made pain relief creams, breads and jams, pickles, aprons to jewelry and shoes.
This is the event center for the community.
Naturally, sunflowers abound everywhere.
I spotted this booth and immediately thought of the Louisiana renowned artist, Grandma Moses.
But, this sweet little lady is Miss Polly Ann Taylor instead, and I so enjoyed getting to meet and visit with her.
She is a self-taught, visual folk artist who lives in the area. She started painting her life experiences as a child, but life struggles kept her from it until 2012. It was at that time her creative gift was "awakened" and thus began what she calls "the real life of Polly Taylor."
She told me that painting again tapped into her God-given gift and she hasn't stopped. Inspired by God, her years in church, nature and rural landscapes, Miss Polly is now looking at the world through new eyes and brings joy and color to many others.
And yes, I brought home one of her little paintings to encourage me to also use the gifts with which I have been blessed.
If you are interested in contacting her for more information see below:
Facebook: Polly Taylor
Have you seen a sweeter face?
Along the way, we passed the Lynn Plantation and saw a little veggie stand and decided to stop.
It was being manned by a couple youngsters, one of which had to come from his perch in the tree to take care of the customers.
Behind the old plantation commissary and country store was a collection of old farm trucks and tractors. Dick and Tom enjoyed seeing these vintage items. Dick recalled watching his uncle very skillfully drive a tractor exactly like this one.
Along the way were more fields and peach orchards. Nothing like a Saturday drive through the country.
The end of the Trail is in the village of Gilliam where flocks of folks enjoy craft vendors with handmade unique arts and décor for the home and lawn, food vendors serving typical Louisiana cuisine, and a couple local restaurants offering good country cuisine.
Only in Louisiana will you find food like this.
This booth only had items made from Cypress Knees found in the many Louisiana swamps. While standing at this table, I overheard a woman ask the vendor if he carved these little tables. A lady next to her said, "Surely you aren't from Louisiana!" No she wasn't.
And only at a Sunflower Festival would this attire not draw a lot of attention.
So until next time, I hope you enjoyed your trip through the countryside of Northwest Louisiana to the 20th Annual Sunflower Trail and Festival.