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In addition to the many Fourth of July events taking place in the county this weekend, local residents also have the option to drive to Rutledge for the annual Sunflower Farm Festival, which features food, music, vendors and of course those tall yellow flowers.

The event takes place from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., today and tomorrow at the West-Holt family-owned Sunflower Farm, located on Durden Road in Rutledge.

In its sixth year, the festival has grown into quite the event, attracting as many as 10,000 people in 2006. This year event organizers are hoping for a more modest 6,000.

"Last year was perfect. We had about 5,500," said Wes Holt, president of Sunflower Farms and an organizer of the festival.

Holt said he is anticipating 60 vendors this year, who will be selling a wide variety of Southern crafts and artwork, including original pottery, baskets, quilts and children's wooden toys.

"We try to have a wide-range, just a little bit of everything," Holt said.

Southern heritage artisans - including a blacksmith, a wood carver, a basket weaver and a quilter - will be providing demonstrations of their crafts throughout the festival.

There is a $5 entrance fee. Children, 12-years-old and younger, get in free. Admission is also free for veterans.

The annual Antique Tractor Parade will take place at the festival at 11 a.m. today.

The Rocky Creek Band, a country music group, are the headliners and masters of ceremony for the festival. The Solstice Sisters of Athens, playing a mixture of folk, swing and bluegrass, will perform at 11: 30 a.m. on Saturday.

Festival goers can choose from a variety of traditional summer treats to eat including local barbecue, hotdogs, hamburgers, homemade ice cream, Italian ice and watermelon slices.

Attendees can also take tours through a house built in 1811 and an 1891 sharecropper's house, which will have an art display by Morgan County's Artist of the Year. A donation of $2 to tour the houses is requested

And of course attendees can also pick the sunflowers. For $10, festival goers are provided with a large vase that they can fill with as many sunflowers as they can cut from the 15 acres devoted to them.

"They're really beautiful," said Holt of this year's flowers. "We got rain at just the right time."

A share of proceeds from the festival will go to Rotary, Habitat for Humanity, Camp Twin Lakes and the Madison-Morgan Conservancy.

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