September 19, 2011
Corn Fest big hit for small town
Cincinnatus celebrates harvest season with annual festival
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
A giant ear of corn made from milk cartons provides the backdrop as 11-year-old Kristy Farrow of German tries her hand at a bicycle safety course Saturday at the annual Cincinnatus Corn Festival.
CINCINNATUS — Throngs of people enjoyed steaming hot corn chowder, corn fritters, popcorn and candy corn Saturday at the Cincinnatus Corn Festival.
The event was held despite concerns that low numbers on the Corn Festival Committee would handicap festivities. But with the support from the town’s Fourth of July Committee, the event went as planned.
Sharon Prior, a member of Cincinnatus Presbyterian Church Women’s Circle, which makes the corn chowder — the hit of the event every year — stood inside the Cincinnatus Central School cafeteria with Donna Law.
The two took a break from serving up piping hot chowder, recalling how the festival started.
Prior said a member of the Presbyterian Church, Dussy McNally, came to Prior’s hair salon over 17 years ago with an idea.
“She kept thinking week after week, ‘We’ve got to get something going to get us on the map,’ ” Prior said. McNally then thought of having an annual corn festival, and the event took off from there.
Prior and Law said the women got local church groups involved and sought community support.
“It just took off,” Law said. “Different organizations did different things.”
The local Baptist church prepared roast beef for the event up until this year. Prior and Law were hesitant to name specific organizations, emphasizing the community nature of the event.
“We probably wouldn’t have had it this year if the firemen didn’t pick it up,” Prior said.
The firemen offered to work with the people still involved in organizing the festival, said Terena Loomis, who was collecting money for the corn chowder Saturday. Loomis said the event was carried out because the firemen joined forces with the corn fest committee.
Community support was a central theme at the event.
Edith Alexander said she came Saturday to support the small community, having been a farmer in Cincinnatus for 20 years.
“I think it’s great that little towns still do these things,” Alexander said. “It’s a lot of work for a little amount of people but I think it’s great.”
Alexander was holding onto an English muffin bread she had purchased at a bake sale to support the school’s National Honor Society.
Vendors sold their wares in the school gymnasium.
Bobbie Elwood, a Taylor resident, was pitching “scentsy” fragrances, which is a safer version of a candle since it relies on a light bulb to melt scented wax.
Elwood offered people a chance to enter a drawing for free scentsy bars and said that with small children and pets at home she relies on the safer version of scented candles.
“I wouldn’t sell something if I wasn’t excited about it,” Elwood said.
Outside the school, where tables were set up for people to eat and listen to a live band, Cincinnatus resident Les Menshouse finished up his chicken barbecue meal and said he always comes to the festival.
“It’s a small town,” Menshouse said. “You’ve got to support it.”
Billie Jo Enders was leaving with a quart of corn chowder as her son Matthew drank a strawberry banana smoothie. Enders said she comes annually because she lives near the school and likes that the event gets the community together. Her son said he liked the magic tricks offered in the gymnasium.
Enders said the chowder is “great.”
Made with about 50 dozen batches of corn this year, the chowder is prepared fresh on site, making about 120 gallons of chowder. The corn is frozen ahead of time but everything else is cooked the day before.
Willet resident Karen Brenchley said she and her 5-year-old daughter Kaylee came to the event Saturday for lunch.
“We want some of that barbecue chicken and corn chowder,” Brenchley said.
Her friend Heidi Brown, who walked into the festival with her 6-year-old daughter Travanna and 4-year-old daughter Ashleea, said the event gave the children something to do.
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