For the first week, everything went fine at Bogle Farms.
Visitors trickled in to gawk at the fields of bright, blooming sunflowers. Phones in hand, they took selfies and group shots among the petals and hiked around the farm.
“For the first eight days we invited the public in, everything was wonderful. Everybody was happy. We were happy. Things were great,” farm owner Barry Bogle told CTV Kitchener.
Then the first weekend of August came around — and everything fell apart.
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“I can only describe it as like a zombie apocalypse,” Bogle’s son Brad told The Globe and Mail.
Thousands of cars full of smartphone-toting, selfie-seeking Canadians poured into the property, creating a massive traffic jam and sparking a chaotic scramble of people on to the fields, Brad Bogles told CHCH.
It was overwhelming.
“People can’t get into their homes, I’ve had people telling me people are going through their mailboxes and one neighbour tell me that he saw people going to the bathroom in the bushes in his front yard,” Brad Bogle told the station.
Staff members had hoped to charge people for entry, but amidst the chaos, the farmers told The Globe and Mail people just stopped listening to them and began wandering all over the property. Several people got into minor car crashes and pedestrians were dashing across traffic, the paper reported.
“Everything went wrong. People were coming in, trespassing, knocking down our plants, stealing the heads. It was just chaos,” Barry Boger told the CBC.
Thousands of people posted photos on Instagram of themselves or others at the fields.
Eventually, the police got involved, helped quell the crowd and told the Bogles the event needed to be shut down, Brad Bogle told CHCH. The family agreed.
“This isn’t what we’re use to in quiet country living. We just can’t understand people trespassing. We would never do it on their property,” Barry Bogle told CTV Kitchener.
It’s not a temporary closure either. After the chaos of the weekend, the Bogles say the fields are shut down for good. Their website says, in bold letters, “ALL PHOTOGRAPHY OF SUNFLOWERS ON THE FARM IS NOW CLOSED FOR THE SEASON!”
They explained on Facebook: “Due to the overwhelming turn out today, the Hamilton Police have been called and they have shut down our sunflower viewing/photography for the season. There will be no more sunflower viewing/photography allowed.”
Seed and others products are still available for purchase, but the family has spent the last week warning prospective visitors who drive up to the property that the farm is “closed forever” for photos, The Globe and Mail reported.
The Bogles aren’t the first to have to close down their farm, however. In 2016, a popular sunflower field in Kansas was also shut down when crowds became overwhelming.