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Local

29 acres of sunflowers in peak bloom at Shabbona Lake State Park

The afternoon sun shines through a fully-bloomed sunflower Tuesday at Shabbona Lake State Recreation Area in Shabbona Township.
The afternoon sun shines through a fully-bloomed sunflower Tuesday at Shabbona Lake State Recreation Area in Shabbona Township.

SHABBONA – Wendy Schnorr lives in Shabbona and visits Shabbona Lake State Park every day to go running, yet she never knew that the park is home to a blooming field of sunflowers.

On Tuesday, Schnorr had a picnic with her family at the state park, and they walked around the sunflower field to take photos.

“I’ve never noticed it, and I hadn’t heard of it before,” Schnorr said. “I had no idea it was here. I think it’s beautiful. It’s actually a great way to draw people into the park.”

Sunflowers are planted every year at Shabbona Lake State Park, 4100 Bluebird Lane in Shabbona. This year,
29 acres of sunflowers were planted in four fields.

To visit the sunflower fields, park in the side hunting parking lot on the main park road and walk left along the mowed pathway. Do not park along the main road.

“This year, the sunflowers look really good,” said Joe Lenkaitis, site superintendent of the state park. “It’s unbelievable – the number of people that have been stopping by to take a look. People also stop to see the prairie flowers, the millet and spring wheat. We plant a variety to attract birds, pollinators and deer.”

The sunflowers were planted for the state park’s dove hunting program. Doves are attracted to the flowers’ color and will eat the seeds before hunting season.

Lenkaitis said that the peak bloom will last another week or two weeks and that the field will be mowed over after the first week of August.

“Everyone is welcome to stop by, view the flowers and take some pictures,” he said. “We only ask that you don’t pick them.”

Shabbona Lake State Park features 318.8 acres of lake and 1,550 acres of park land. The lake, designed specifically with fishing in mind, features more than 12 species of fish. The park has been nicknamed the “Muskie Capitol of Illinois” and “Illinois’ Best Fishing Lake.” Four state muskie records and two state hybrid crappie records have been set at the lake.

The park has 8 miles of hiking and cross-country skiing trails; 150 campsites; two cabins with electricity; boat rental, including pontoons, kayaks and row boats; a bait and tackle shop; a restaurant; hunting areas; and opportunities for winter sports, such as ice fishing, sledding and snowshoeing. The park also contains a 15-acre seasonal nesting area for migratory waterfowl such as canvasback, redhead and pintail ducks and Canada geese.

For information about Shabbona Lake State Park, visit www.shabbonalake.com or call 815-824-2106.

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