Last Updated on October 1, 2021 by Jeremy
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Our visit to Schwirian Farm for their annual sunflower festival at their farm just outside of Elizabeth, PA, was a few years in the making.
The reason for this is that prior to 2021, the annual festival was brief- just a day or so (the rest of the season the farm would be closed to the public). As such, it shouldn't be a surprise that we simply missed it by either being out of town or not being on top of tracking when that exact date would be.
But starting in 2021, the festival changed. Instead of being just a single day, it runs for a full week thanks to its incredible popularity (in 2021 the festival runs from July 17th-25th and a second bloom in October from the 2nd-11th). Since I had this one on my calendar for a full year to ensure I didn't miss it when it came back, we made sure to go on the very first day and were very glad we did.
In this one, we wanted to share a bit more about what you can expect when visiting the Schwirian Farm Sunflower Festival!
What to Expect from Schwirian Farm Sunflower Festival
To start, we should make a few comments on the use of the word festival for this one. To us, when we read the word festival, we think of a monster event packed full of vendors, perhaps musicians or other performers, food, and more.
Schwirian Farm Sunflower Festival is not that.
While there are a few vendors on-site (in 2021 this included a coffee cart that also sold sweets, a popcorn vendor, and of course the farm itself selling sunflower related products), at its core this festival is simply an opportunity for the public to get to explore a massive sunflower field near Pittsburgh for free. Yes, you read that right, free!
If you go in expecting this festival to simply be your ability to get to see gorgeous sunflowers, take photos, and enjoy the short annual bloom, you'll be in great shape. In fact, even with this mindset, we were pretty impressed because the field itself was much larger than we anticipated- a wonderful surprise!
When visiting this one, you really get free reign of the field insofar as you are respectful to the flowers and only take photos (the self-pick area is off to the side with a separate booth). Want to walk hundreds of feet away from the crowds to get photos alone with the flowers? You can do that. Want to get a unique angle looking at the flowers from the front, side, or back? You can do that. Want to take a long walk around the entire field? Yep, you can do that too. We did all of this in our roughly 90-minute visit to the farm!
Where other farms may rope off a lot of the sunflowers in order to protect them, we were really pleased with Schwirian Farm for allowing up-close-and-personal access to the flowers in hopes that all guests use the honor system to respect the plants.
The festival even goes one step further by allowing local photographers to register (in advance) to host photoshoots at the farm. So while you cannot contract your favorite Pittsburgh photographer and bring them in for a custom photoshoot on a whim, we do highly encourage anyone who wants professional photos done to check out the farm's Facebook page for the approved photographer list each year- many had slots available last minute too!
Things to Know Before Visiting for Sunflowers
When visiting Schwirian Farm for their sunflower fields, the first thing you should do is check their Facebook page for all listed terms of visiting. We mentioned this above, but it really is important as things like hours, field parking information, and accessibility are always liable to change when it comes to visiting an active farm (both seasonally and even daily).
Up next is that while you may want to dress up for nice photographs with sunflowers, keep in mind you are still on an active farm. Some of the dirt was quite soft, a bit hard to walk on (watch out for holes), and of course can become muddy rather easily after rain. As such, you may want to stick with a pair of comfortable shoes and be strategic in cropping your feet out in photos- it really does make things easier.
Likewise, it may be worth keeping in mind that bees love sunflowers just as much as we do. I lost track of how many bees we saw but well over 50% of the sunflowers I took close-up photos of had at least one (if not more) bee on them. We passed at least one small child crying from a bee sting, so it is best to be aware that these flowers are great pollinators.
Finally, please make a purchase from the farm's tent if you are able. The purchases and donations there help ensure that this event can remain free for future guests. They make a pretty amazing sunflower oil from their field and we picked up two bottles during our visit. If you are able to make even a small purchase, it can go a long way!
Overall, we really loved visiting Schwirian Farm for their annual sunflower festival as they have a truly gorgeous field that they graciously share with the public. We hope to be regulars at this one each and every year to get more great shots as well!
Schwirian Farm Sunflower Festival runs from July 17-25th and a second bloom on October 2-11th in 2021 and is open to the public, for free, from 8 am to 8 pm (9 pm for those with approved photographer appointments). Please check their Facebook page at the previous link for the most up-to-date information. The farm is located near the elementary school at 392 William Penn Road in Monongahela, PA. Look for the big sunflower festival banner on your drive in.
Have you visited any fields of sunflowers near Pittsburgh? Comment below to share your experience!