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Updated: Feb 26, 2022

Photo credit: John Malter

In 2020 the 27th annual Waterbury Rotary Sunflower Growing Contest, known as The Hunt for Sunzilla, The Monster Sunflower was held. The contest starts on Arbor Day, the first Friday in May when the Waterbury Rotarians provide trees for the students at Thatcher Brook Primary School, Crossett Brook Middle School, and Moretown Elementary School to plant as part of the celebration. Information about Arbor Day is also shared with the students. Following the celebration packets of giant sunflower seeds are provided for all the students to plant. Additional packets of seeds are also distributed to businesses around the Waterbury area. Approximately 20,000 seeds are distributed each year. Since the first contest in 1993, over 500,000 sunflower seeds have been shared with the participants. During the second week of the Waterbury Farmers Market in September at Rusty Parker Memorial Park, the Hunt for Sunzilla contest occurs. Sunflowers are judged for the heaviest sunflower head, the largest diameter sunflower head, and the tallest sunflower, which is then named, Sunzilla the Monster Sunflower. There have been winning sunflow

Photo credit: John Malter

ers over 16 feet tall and sunflower heads over 24 inches in diameter and over 6 pounds in weight. Prizes include bird feeders, bird houses, sunflower seeds, and gift certificates to local businesses. Joining the Waterbury Rotary Club, other sponsors of the prizes include Evergreen Gardens, Sunflower Natural Foods, Waterbury True Value Hardware, and the Waterbury Farmers Market. In conjunction with Sunzilla the Rotary also has another contest: Search for the Other Green Monster, which searches for the longest and the heaviest zucchini. Zucchinis over 2 feet long and 11 pounds have been winners in the past.

Beside the judging of the sunflowers, we also hold an athletic event for kids ages 12 and younger. This is a sunflower seed spitting contest for both distance and accuracy. During 2020, the year of the pandemic, this activity was replaced with sunflower seed throwing for accuracy.

Over the years we have also had sunflower themed baking contests, sunflower hat making, and sunflower art posters. Just remember, sunflowers make you smile.

Photo credit: John Malter

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