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What's New Central Texas | Sunflower Festival opens this weekend in West

Brandon and Taylor Huffman moved from Maryland and have turned an old cattle farm in West into a sprawling family farm for others to enjoy with them.

WEST, Texas — As the sun begins to shine a little more often and with summer a little more than a month away, a new dream is unfolding in West at Western Belle Farm and it's as pretty as a sunflower.

"We are super excited to be opening up our farm to the public and to have a little bit of fun," said Taylor Huffman, he owns and operates the small farm just east of Waco with her husband, Brandon.

"We are most excited to grow out sunflowers and hopefully our pumpkins this fall," she continued. "We want to be the local destination for families in this area to create memories together."

Credit: Taylor Huffman
Taylor, on the platform to the right, helps run the pumpkin cannon on her family farm in Maryland when she was a young child.

Taylor is no stranger to farm operations as she was raised on a 350 acre row crop and hay operation. She said every fall for 22 years, her family would open up the farm to offer a Fall Festival which saw over 30,000 people in the month of October.

When the Huffman's landed in Central Texas in November 2021, it was a move they said was a dream come true for them and was needed in order for them to reprioritize their lives. The area was a place they'd frequent every year and they knew, deep down, Texas was the place for them to settle if and when they ever left Maryland.

"I didn't grow up in this business, I was kind of brought into it," Brandon said with a laugh, "but I quickly found a passion for it."

It's that passion for the Huffman's that sparked them to start a farm in Maryland called Winterbook. It was a place to entertain, have fall festivals and grow pumpkins but also teach, a passion for Taylor since she was young.

Credit: Taylor Huffman
Taylor and Brandon at Winterbrook Farm in Maryland

"Honestly, I'm a little fearful that agriculture is something that society is something that society is getting too far detached from," Taylor told 6 News. "So, I like to be that place that makes it fun for them to learn about it and being engaged in it."

Both Brandon and Taylor visited multiple farms throughout the State of Texas, doing their homework to see what wasn't offered and they could capitalize on to be a little different.

"We researched the agritourism market here in Texas and realized that's a huge part that's missing," Taylor said. "Involving people in the product that we can actually grow is big for us, so having fun on the farm, come pick a pumpkin off the vine or come pick a sunflower out of the field, that's a big part of this."

The teaching aspect aside, The Huffman's are excited to welcome Central Texans to their first ever Sunflower Festival. With more than 15 activities for all ages, including a Beeline Mini Zipline, Cattle Drive Barrel Train, farm animals, slides and fields of sunflowers.

Credit: Taylor Huffman
Taylor hugs her sunflowers in this undated photo taken in Maryland

New to Texas, the Huffman's are learning as they go about the soil and climate in Central Texas. The drought has been difficult and has delayed the sunflowers by a couple weeks and feet.

"We really enjoy sharing our story and taking people along as we learn and grow ourselves so when people come out this opening weekend they will see we underestimated the spring Central Texas weather," Taylor explained, pointing to cool and dry temperatures. "Our sunflowers actually got a little stunted and they aren't quite ready to bloom just yet."

While the sunflowers won't bloom for a couple of weeks, they hope everyone will still come and see everything else they have to offer, with a promise of sunflowers in the coming weeks.

"I think most importantly, we want families to come and have a good time," Taylor said. "We want them to have good memories from their awesome experience at our farm and we want them to come year after year and have that same fun experience with a day on the farm with their family."

The Western Belle Farm Sunflower Festival begins on Saturday May 7 and the cost is $10. Children under two years old are free to attend. Tickets to the farm and gift shop can be purchased here.