Thousands of blooming sunflowers will be showcased at TWRA’s Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area during the fifth annual Knoxville Sunflower Festival Saturday, July 9, from 9 a.m.-noon.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, which owns and manages the management area, plants multiple fields with sunflowers once every two years and invites visitors to learn more about land management and habitat restoration as they wander through a sea of yellow flowers.
Touring the celebration is easy. Visitors can take a free shuttle from Tennessee School for the Deaf, 2723 Island Home Boulevard. Shuttles will run continuously from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. Limited parking is available at Ijams Nature Center and the Ijams Quarries. Parking for people with disabilities is designated within the area off McClure Lane. No other parking will be permitted within the area during the celebration.
New this year are guided group bike rides to the celebration. Printshop Beer Company will lead a ride at 10:30 a.m. from their brewery at 1532 Island Home Avenue. Riders should arrive at 10:15 a.m. and be advised that, while the ride to the sunflowers is relatively easy, there will be some hills going both ways. Cycology Bicycles will lead a ride from Sutree Park at 1001 Waterfront Drive Southeast, rolling out at 9 a.m.
Additionally, Kickstand Community Bike Shop and Two Bikes will offer loan bikes to celebration goers who want to tour the sunflowers along the Will Skelton Greenway which borders the sunflower fields. Kickstand and Two Bikes will be set up in the first parking area inside the management area.
Guided tours of the sunflower fields are set for 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 11:30 a.m. leaving from the shuttle drop-off spot in the center of the fields.
Food trucks will be located at the Ijams Quarries and sunflower gifts will be available in the Ijams Nature Center Gift Shop. Celebration goers are reminded to bring water and to wear comfortable walking shoes. They are also reminded that the weather determines how much and when the sunflowers will bloom.
The Knoxville Sunflower Celebration is presented by Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, Legacy Parks Foundation, Visit Knoxville, city of Knoxville Parks and Recreation and Ijams Nature Center.
Carol Evans is executive director of Legacy Parks Foundation.