Sweet Corn Festival

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

The founders of the Sweet Corn Festival had modest ambitions. Members of the Millersport Lions Club had hoped to sell 10 dozen ears of corn for 5 cents each during the first event, which was held in the summer of 1946.

"A nickel went a long way back then," said John Yorde, marketing chairman for the 2016 event.

When this year's festivities start Aug. 31, club members anticipate selling more than 200,000 ears of corn at $1.25 each. The festival has grown into a popular annual event that includes live music, carnival rides and a wide variety of food options. The event opens with a parade at 6 p.m. Wednesday. "It's always been family-oriented - period," Yorde said.

Early in its history, the festival moved from downtown Millersport to land east of the city that the Lions bought specifically for hosting the four-day fundraiser. The 130-acre site has four stages offering everything from big-name country acts to square dancing, Yorde said. This year's headliners are Lee Greenwood and Lonestar. "There's always something going on."

Children can take part in Hula-Hoop and corn-eating contests and visit booths set up by various nonprofit organizations. Several offer activities such as crafts or face painting. Only nonprofits can sell food or set up booths during the festival, Yorde said.

The Lions Club is the only vendor selling sweet corn. Volunteers operate a corn-husking machine the club purchased decades ago. Others remove the silk and shuttle the corn to the mammoth kettle where it's cooked, he said.

"You can see everything," Yorde said. "It's a fascinating thing to watch."

-Melissa Kossler Dutton