The invite promised a "spectacular sight"; the reality was a spectacular disaster. For eight days at the end of July, all was fine as tourists flocked to the Bogle Seeds sunflower seed farm in Hamilton, Ontario. They were there at the invitation of the farm's owners, who'd decided to open the farm up for two weeks to picture-taking visitors, some from as far away as Australia and Dubai, per the Globe and Mail. But on July 28—what Brad Bogle now calls "Crazy Day," per the National Post—everything went awry, when about 7,000 selfie-obsessed sightseers converged upon the farm, per Bogle's estimate. The day-trippers started showing up shortly after dawn, the parking lot that could hold 300 cars was filled before 10am, and the scene soon degenerated into "utter chaos," per the CBC. Included in that chaos: people not paying admission, littering, and enraging the farm's neighbors.
"One of my neighbors told me that he caught two people going to the bathroom in his front yard in his bushes," Bogle, who runs the farm with his parents, tells the Post, adding to the New York Times: "They were knocking down sunflowers and taking flower heads with them. … [It was] a zombie apocalypse. … We went from a week of amazing to that." What had spurred the giant crowd, unbeknownst to the Bogle family: viral photos of their sunflowers that had spread on social media. Now, a huge black banner scrolls across the Bogle Seeds website declaring: "All photography of sunflowers ... [is] now closed for the season!" That hasn't stopped the curious from still trying to make their way onto the farm, yelling at Bogle or flipping him the bird when he turns them away. "I'm a farmer," he tells the Times. "I just want to be in the dirt." (Read more Canada stories.)