In the summer months, the sun rays are more distinct, the birds sing a bit louder, and Highway 3049 north transforms into a path of golden blossoms. It is the Boom or Bust Byway’s natural way of welcoming this year’s 21st Annual Sunflower Trail and Festival, located behind the Red River Crossroads Museum in Gilliam, Louisiana. This festival is a full day of free, family-friendly fun with a cheery and welcoming atmosphere.
Festivalgoers travel near and far to experience arts and crafts, live music, food trucks and the massive fields of six-foot sunflowers speckled across the byway, and now, I understand why. Every facet of this event was covered with sunflowers. There were freshly picked sunflowers placed in headbands, tied to pet collars, and some were casually carried in-hand, whereas mock sunflowers were drawn on babies’ faces, printed on t-shirts, painted on large canvases and decorated at vendor stations. There were almost as many vendors as there were sunflowers. At every festival, I make a conscious effort to discover a vendor that offers the most unique products. I hopscotched my away around with more than 30 vendors that offered everything from handmade crafts such as scrunchies, cutting boards, and jewelry to eats and sweets such as mojito popsicles from Geauxsicles and Eddie’s stuffed shrimp.
In between my craft and food perusal, I reveled in locals dancing to live bands until I found my diamond in the rough, So Good Y’all Dips and Spice Mixes. They are a small business based out of Glenmora, Louisiana, which is about 25 miles outside of Alexandria. So Good Y’all Dips and Spice Mixes specializes in organic powdered dip mixes and spices that create wide-ranging dip flavors including bacon, spicy fiesta, unicorn, and my ultimate favorite, cookie dough. These quick-fix dips are so flavorful and only $4 a pack. Seriously, it’s “so good y’all.” To test out your favorite flavor from So Good Y’all Dips and Spice Mixes, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sogoodyalldipmixes.
That’s really all you can ask for in a festival. A popular theme, good food, handmade crafts and live music, but the Sunflower Trail and Festival offers you more than that. It’s a two-part situation. Enjoy early daytime excitement at the festival first, then take a scenic drive along the sunflower trail. The sunflower trail consists of a 20-mile drive along the Boom or Bust Byway’s countryside with various sunflower fields and patches on Hwy 3049 north between Shreveport and Gilliam and on the Sentell Road Loop. A child-like giddiness stirs inside of me when I see sunflowers stretching across vast acreage in their bright and yellow glory. The sunflowers are planted so close to the road that you can reach out of your car window and snag a few. If you take a later drive, you’re in for a real picturesque treat. There’s nothing better than pulling over on the side of the road to catch the sunset for a moment of stillness, especially when the sunflowers are in full bloom. I’d travel far to catch this scenery too.
Oh, did I mention the sunflowers makes for the best photo op? Depending on weather conditions, sunflowers are typically in full bloom from mid-June to mid-July. Grab your camera, hop in your car, follow the byway and hit the sunflower trail. You won’t regret it. If you missed the festivities, drive the sunflower trail and prepare for next year’s fun. The Sunflower Trail and Festival event takes place on the third Saturday in June every year. For more information on upcoming festivals and outdoor fun on the Boom or Bust Byway this summer, visit www.BoomOrBustByway.com.