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‘National Sunflower Day’

Wednesday, October 25, 2023
filed under: News

Be Sunny sticker on mailbox
Photo credit: North Dakota Tourism
        It seems there’s a day to commemorate just about everything: from National Spaghetti Day (January 4) to National Ice Cream Cone Day (September 22), National Farmer’s Day (October 12) and National Polar Bear Day (February 27), there are nearly 2,000 national days to celebrate every year.
        Now, you can add National Sunflower Day to that list.  The National Sunflower Association and North Dakota Tourism teamed up to make the first Saturday in August “National Sunflower Day.”
        “We were planning our social media content calendar and realized there was no National Sunflower Day,” recalls Sara Otte Coleman, director of the Tourism and Marketing Division of the North Dakota Department of Commerce.  “We decided to work with the NSA to fill out an application.  People are enamored with sunflower, and we thought it was a no-brainer that we get this added to the National Day Calendar.”
        It also helps that the National Day Calendar is based in North Dakota, consistently a top sunflower-producing state in the nation. The Mandan, N.D., organization tracks national days, weeks, months and even international days.  People submit more than 18,000 ideas for national days every year.  A committee must unanimously vote to approve a day. About 30 are added every year.
        National Day Calendar issued an official proclamation on August 1, 2023, declaring the first Saturday in August as National Sunflower Day.  They write, “National Sunflower Day reminds us to show our inner sunshine, while taking the opportunity to share one of Earth’s most beautiful flowers,” on their website, The website also shares facts aimed at teaching readers about the crop.
        Otte Coleman says they chose August to celebrate sunflower on purpose; it’s peak season for sunflower bloom, something her office fields hundreds of calls and emails about every year.  Those calls prompted the tourism office and the NSA to create a sunflower map to help people keep track of where the sunflower is blooming.  The map has grown from 10 fields across North Dakota to 18 fields in 2023.  Six of those fields included “Sunflower Seed Mailboxes” that included free sunflower seeds and a QR code to the map.
        “We’ve given those sunflower seed kernels away at sales events for the past 20 years,” says Otte Coleman.  “They’re a great conversation starter, whether a person gets them at an event or at a stop on the sunflower map.”
        The map includes exact coordinates of sunflower fields across the state and weekly updates from the farmers who grow them.  It is one of the department’s top-visited pages on their website; from July to August, it consistently gets more than 15,000 visits. The map is also a leading piece of content on all the department’s social media platforms.
        Otte Coleman knows first-hand the importance of sunflower to producers.  Her husband, Clark, grows sunflower on their farm just north of Bismarck, N.D. and is a past NSA president and chairman and remains a board member.
        “As tourism director and as a farmer’s wife, I know how important it is that we let the world know what we’re growing here in North Dakota,” Otte Coleman affirms.  “Anything we can do to get people talking about agriculture is good for our state.  Hopefully National Sunflower Day will not only educate people about one of our most important crops, but also inspire them to visit North Dakota.”

rows of sunflower        Otte Coleman hopes some upcoming episodes of the PBS program “Travels with Darley” might also spark some interest in sunflower. The show takes viewers around the word to experience culture, cuisine, history and outdoor adventure.  In each episode, Darley travels with locals to get an authentic experience.  Darley visited North Dakota to talk sunflower, during which she made stops at the Coleman farm, Giants Snacks headquarters in Wahpeton, N.D., and the SunButter® facility in Fargo, N.D.
      “Darley was in North Dakota for our National Sunflower Day designation,” Otte Coleman relates.  “We are excited for the episodes her team is putting together, and anxious to see not only our state, but also one of our top crops in the spotlight.”
        Season 11 of “Travels with Darley” debuts on PBS stations on January 11, 2024.
          “NSA is always looking for more ways to create awareness of sunflower and sunflower products such as oil, kernel and in-shell confection seeds,” notes John Sandbakken, NSA executive director.  “Having a National Sunflower Day is an excellent means of reaching new consumers to encourage them to buy our products.” — Jody Kerzman
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