In this week's installment of "this is why we can't have nice things" comes the story of a family's nice idea to earn a bit of extra money turning into mayhem.
The Bogle family owns a sprawling farm, Bogle Seeds, of around 1.4 million sunflowers and other plants in Hamilton, Ontario. Three years ago, they had a great idea: knowing how photogenic the flowers are, they opened the farm to visitors at a rate of $7.50 per adult, which generated some extra income. This year, they hired a staff of eight people and rented porta-potties in anticipation of the crowds. They noted that in the first week, their parking lot never saw over about 100 cars at a time, though they had a steady flow of visitors from around the world. Then came July 28.
On that fateful day, a few pictures from the farm that had gone viral on Instagram caused a mammoth influx of visitors, starting well before sunrise. By the afternoon, cars were parking over a kilometer away and the police had been called, as it was clear the situation was out of hand. People were walking into the fields without paying, the mass of cars caused several accidents and close calls, and some visitors threatened to fight the staff when they asked them to leave. By 2 p.m., police had shut down the farm and the road near it, as the estimates put the number of cars at the site around 7,000. Brad Bogle said it was like "a zombie apocalypse." After a few days of putting up signs indicating the permanent closure to photo tourists and warding off trespassers, the situation is back under control, but the extent of the damage to the delicate flowers won't be clear until harvest time in the fall. For now, Marlene Bogle has stationed herself at the end of the driveway, yelling "we're closed forever!" at the cars that continue to stop.
Lead image by Skitterphoto, used under Creative Commons.