Thousands flock to Minnesota couple's sunflower farm for whimsy, bliss

While most of us have a dream, not all of us see it come true. But, one couple in Big Lake, Minnesota lives their dream every day for two weeks when they welcome thousands to their backyard.

Sunflowers are almost like family to Shawn and Phil Paul.

"I kinda feel like we’re caretakers of this place. It was built in 1889, and it’s gonna be here long after we are,” said Shawn Paul. “Every morning I come out here and just walk through them and talk to them, prop up the ones that need a little help.”

It was only two years ago that the dream of sharing them with the world came true. 

“For years I drove past it, and then one day there was a ‘for sale’ sign in the yard,” Shawn said.


Sunflowers bloom in Big Lake, Minnesota. (FOX 9 / FOX 9)

There weren’t as many then, and they weren’t the big sunflowers most of us expect. This year, Shawn and Phil wanted the unexpected. So, they planted 80,000 seeds that bloom wild, smaller and different colors that what we’re used to, and you have to walk through them to really know them.

“I went with 'The Field of Whimsy' because it really is just not tame. It is whimsical, it is a little bit wild, it’s overgrown, but yet it’s absolutely gorgeous,” Shawn said.

And they look amazing in photos, which is why most people come to capture the kids in a moment in time where Mother Nature takes over and nothing else matters.

“There’s a lot of people that can’t even put bread on the table or that’s all they can do…let them come and have some fun, let them know that they’re welcome to come here," Phil Paul said.


Sunflowers bloom in Big Lake, Minnesota. (FOX 9)

“Everybody has a different view. They see it through different lens; it means something different to every one of them,” Shawn added.

In four days, 4,000 people have come through for Sunflower Fest in Shawn and Phil’s backyard.

“My dream is to bring this kind of beauty to a community that draws people together, that doesn’t exclude anybody. I want everyone to feel welcome here,” Shawn said.