SUNFLOWERS DAYS

Amanda Stahlke, of Oregon, and her husband, Isaac, walk along the trails during 2016 Sunflower Days at Pope Farm Conservancy in Verona.

After taking 2018 off, Sunflower Days is set to return to the town of Middleton this summer with a new safety plan, a new event logo and the first ever Sunflower run/walk added to the list of events.

Town officials announced last month the return of the popular event celebrating the bloom of the massive sunflower field at Pope Farm Conservancy from July 26 through August 4.

“This year we expect over 40,000 people to come through the Pope Farm Conservancy throughout our 10 days,” said Greg DiMiceli, Middleton town administrator.

This event was last held in 2017 and attracted over 90,000 people who generated 3,000 photos on Instagram throughout a 10 day period. However, due to the large crowds descending on a small area in rural Dane County, event organizers and town officials had safety concerns which led them to cancel the event in 2018.

This year, the town of Middleton worked to minimize those safety issues with a plan that includes charging for admission and providing shuttle buses.

“We have three parking sites: Wisconsin Brewing Company, Capital Ice Arena, and we just added Blackhawk Church, where visitors can park their cars and ride free shuttles that run every 30 minutes to and from the Pope Farm,” DiMiceli said.

There will be an admission fee of $4 for adults, with children 12 and under admitted at no charge. The admission fee includes entrance to Pope Farm and free parking.

Town official DiMiceli said the town will monitor crowds through online ticket sales each day.

“We have Race Day event organizers producing the event, and they will be monitoring ticket sales to let us know when a parking lot has hit capacity and when we hit capacity at Pope Farm,” said DiMiceli.

However, he said he does not believe they will hit a number of sales that will force them to close Pope Farm during the 10 days because of the turnover rate.

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“It’s like the mall where people go in and out throughout the day, so the mall will not hit capacity where they have to close the doors. This is what we’re expecting for Sunflower Days,” he said.

This year’s event will include the first- ever 5k run/walk through Pope Farm on August 1 that starts at 7 p.m.

“We’re so excited about our first 5k run and walk where participants will start at Pioneer Park and follow trails in the Pope Farm Conservancy to see the amazing view of the sunflowers. People are excited about the race, too, seeing how many tickets are being sold online,” said DiMiceli.

For more information about Sunflower Days to purchase ticket, visit the event website at http://www.sunflowerdays.fun.