The fresh bud of a young sunflower calmly waits for its hero to appear in the eastern sky. Undeterred by the night time storms and loyal to the yellow-orange hue as the sun begins to paint the horizon, the ever loyal sunflower greets the new day in full adoration.
Helianthus is the official name. The greek words “helios” means sun and “anthus” means flower. Legend has it, that there was a water nymph in love with Apollo, the god of the Sun. She worshiped him, loyal to a fault. Followed his every move. But she was a nymph. Apollo was a god. He didn’t notice her. As the other gods watched, they felt compassion for her. They saw her love, her loyalty, her adoration, her happiness, and to reward her, turned her into a sunflower so she could live forever in Apollo’s warmth.
Take a ride through Bennett County and pastures, road sides, and yards are filled with wild sunflowers. Drive down Hisle Road and you are traveling through a gauntlet of color as the wild flower stretches to the sky.
It was 1000 B.C. in the Americas when the sunflower appeared in New Mexico and Arizona. It was a source of nutrition. The seeds were crushed to make a flour to produce bread. The stalks were used for building material and to make paper. The petals were used for dye.
It was in the 1700’s that the sunflower became prominent in Europe, specifically the area of Ukraine and Russia where by the 1800’s over two million acres of sunflowers were produced. The Russian Orthodox Church had banned all foods containing oil during lent except for sunflowers. So sunflower oil became popular.
In China, the sunflower became symbolic, representing long life, vitality and good luck.
Spiritually, the sunflower symbolizes the desire to gain knowledge and devotion to seek the light of truth. It even became the symbol of resistance to the Russian invasion in Ukraine after an old lady gave the seeds to a Russian soldier and told him to carry them in his pocket so when he died in the fields of Ukraine, the sunflowers would grow.
It’s a happy flower, a loyal flower, a strong flower, devoted to community.
It’s a lot like people of Martin and Bennett County. This is why you see them painted in the windows of almost every store in downtown Martin and on our water tower. They represent us. You’ll find them thriving, some standing tall individually and some in a large community of other sunflowers, just like us.
We have city sunflowers and country sunflowers, wild sunflowers and planted sunflowers all welcoming our friends, neighbors, and travelers to our community. We even have a “sunflower branding committee,” a group of strong, loyal citizens who believe that Martin and Bennett County have a lot of good things to offer. They’ll have a booth at the county fair promoting sunflowers and our community.
Stop by and pick up some sunflower recipes and get your picture taken in sunflower photo booth. If you’re traveling to Martin for the Bennett County Fair and Rodeo, be sure to take time to “stop and smell the sunflowers.”
Bennett County sunflowers bloom in late July or early August and will stay brilliant for around 30 days. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.