Dizzy at Dexter’s ‘Daze’

Published 10:41 am Monday, June 22, 2009

It was volleyball with a twist.

At Sunflower Daze in Dexter on Saturday, 12 teams competed in the festival’s newest competition, blind volleyball.

For years, volleyball has been a staple at the every-other-year Sunflower Daze, but a lack of interest threatened to cancel it for 2009.

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“In the past six years, it’s been hard to get enough teams,” said Trey Mork, in charge of the blind volleyball tournament. “We were going to cancel it, and then someone suggested blind volleyball, and we got 50 percent more teams than we’ve ever had.”

Blind volleyball is played in similar fashion to the original game. A match consists of two teams taking position in sand pits on either sides of a net. In the blind version, however, the net is completely covered by a tarp.

“It’s a lot more anticipation because you’re always waiting for the ball to come,” said Stacie Shawback, a 2007 Southland graduate. “I think it’s also less competitive because people aren’t blocking and spiking. It’s funny too, because you can hear laughter coming from the other side, but you can’t see what happened.”

The festivities didn’t stop there as Sunflower Daze featured everything from a kiddie tractor pull to bean bag tournaments.

“It’s good,” said Dexter City Clerk Natalie Shawback, about the occasion. “I think it’s nice to keep the community together . I know the people who put it on have worked really hard.”

Sunflower Daze has a rich history in Dexter.

Roy Kirkpatrick, a longtime area resident, said the festival’s name came from decades ago when the government paid some farmers not to plant crops on certain acres of land. While this practice still occurs today, Kirkpatrick said that back then, farmers also had the option to lease the land back from the government, as long as they planted sunflowers and put the product on the market to produce sunflower oil.

“It’s kind of a fun thing,” said Kirkpatrick, about Sunflower Daze. “A lot of people don’t know how it originated, but I know because I have a year or two on them.”