Sunflower festival this weekend

TWRA and Legacy Parks are partnering for the third Sunflower Festival at the Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area in Knoxville on Saturday, July 13 from 9 a.m. to noon.

Recognizing the public’s great interest in the sunflower fields a few years ago, WMA Manager Bill Smith decided it would benefit TWRA and the public to have an event.

“The sunflowers draw thousands of visitors every year and we want them to enjoy their aesthetic value while understanding their benefits to wildlife and hunters,” says Smith.

The WMA has about 70 acres planted in sunflowers this year and while their showy blooms are pleasing to the eye, they are also highly beneficial to pollinators, and the seeds they produce provide abundant food for several species of birds and other wildlife.

Smith also wants to remind the public that the large sunflower fields are only present every other year as crop rotation is important to maintain soil fertility and control pests.

The large sunflower fields won’t be planted again until 2021.

The free event kicks off at 9 a.m. with a welcoming and interpretive talk by TWRA. A guided tour of the area will begin at 10:30 a.m.

Please note: there will be no parking along the road or on private land without the landowner’s permission and commercial use and private events on the area are prohibited.

Directions to the Forks of the River WMA:

From I-40, take James White Pkwy exit (388A) and stay to the left to continue on James White Parkway. Cross over the Tenn. River and take the Sevier Ave./Hillwood Dr. Exit. Turn Left onto Sevier Ave. (turns into Hillwood Dr.). Turn right onto Island Home Ave. (at bottom of hill). Take the first left onto McClure Ln. just passed Ijams Nature Center. Follow signs to the WMA. A TWRA gravel parking lot is to the right at the end of McClure Lane.

For more information, contact Bill Smith at 865-856-9711.