Are you thinking about what to do this weekend? Dreaming of getting out of the city to get some fresh air? Why not stop down at the Eric Freeland’s Farm Second Annual Sunflower Festival! Frolic around fields of zinnias and wildflowers, stroll through a sunflower festival, and pick up some fresh tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, and corn a short drive north outside of Wellsburg.
Eric Freeland has been farming for over forty years on his property at 2470 Windy Hill Rd, Wellsburg, WV. In recent years Freeland has made an effort to bring folks to his farm who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to experience an agrarian way of life.
“People will be able to say they’ve gone to a real, producing farm,” Freeland said of the Sunflower Festival, taking place Saturday, July 29 from noon-6 p.m., and Sunday, July 30 from noon-5 p.m. “It lets people have an additional avenue to come to the farm to see how things are actually grown,” he said.
A sign stands by Eric Freeland’s Farm inviting visitors to stop by this weekend for the Sunflower Festival. Look out for bigfoot!--courtesy of Eric Freeland.
A field of sunflowers in bloom with some friendly cows in the background (photo courtesy of Eric Freeland.)
Freeland has been supplying Wheeling with fresh, locally grown produce for years through the Public Market and their summer CSA program. While he is thankful for the outlet, Freeland says there’s not much room for connecting with people when you’re dropping produce off.
“It gives us an opportunity to talk to the folks,” Freeland said. “If we grow potatoes and haul it to Grow Ohio Valley, there’s no real conversation. [The Sunflower Festival] is a chance for the consumer to have boots on the ground and to see our cultural practices.”
And there is a ton to see while you’re there. Freeland, who recently began serving as a District Supervisor for the West Virginia Conservation Agency, takes seriously his role in stewarding the land as a farmer. Visitors will see manicured garden beds and pollinator-friendly plantings.
This year, Freeland has something exciting in store for the Sunflower Festival–an extensive sunflower maze, which he says will be exciting for kids and adults alike. “I enjoy it as much as anybody to walk through it,” Freeland said of the sunflower maze. He said he frequently walks through them with his daughter and granddaughters, who also enjoy it.
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The sunflowers are taller than Freeland who stands just over 6 feet tall. And he says visitors are in for a real treat as several of the blooms have just opened up just in time for the event.
An example of some of the produce and products offered at Eric Freeland’s on farm store (Photo courtesy of Eric Freeland).
Eric Freeland and his granddaughter pose for a photo amidst the sunflowers. Many people take this time of year to get their pictures taken with the beautiful scenery of his farm (photo courtesy of Eric Freeland).
Many people use these events to get pictures done for their senior year, proposals, family, and other special occasions. The fields of flowers and greenery provide an excellent backdrop! Tickets for the Sunflower Festival are a flat rate of $20 per car, so make sure to bring your friends along! Visitors can pick their own produce, shop his on-farm store for locally baked goods from The Little Brown Hen Bakery, honey products from Windswept Farm, and Freeland’s own produce and valley-famous jams made from his berries.
For $5, visitors can purchase a vase, too, allowing them to pick as many flowers as they want for a custom-made bouquet of sunflowers and zinnias.
A local chef, Brian Magliochetti, will be on-site cooking summer cook-out favorites like hotdogs, hamburgers, and many side dishes. Magliochetti often utilizes Eric Freeland’s Farm produce when working at the Barn With Inn, in Wellsburg, located in the historic Sarah Miller House.
Eric Freeland’s Farm is located at 2470 Windy Hill Rd, Wellsburg, WV 26070, and signs will be up to help direct people, but rest assured that your GPS will take you right to the property. You’ll regret missing out on this opportunity, that’s for sure! So make your way to the Sunflower Event from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 29, or from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 30!
• Justice Hudson is an AmeriCorps volunteer and citizen journalist originally from Saint Albans, West Virginia, and has lived in Wheeling since January 2020. He studied history and women and gender studies at West Virginia University and has worked in farming and community education since moving to the Friendly City. In February 2023 he began writing as a folk reporter independently for the Hudson Household Editorial and for organizations including Mustard Seed Mountain, BlackByGod: The West Virginian, and Weelunk.