September 21, 2009


Corn Fest back on school grounds

Church group’s corn chowder still biggest hit at 14th annual festival

FestivalBob Ellis/staff photographer
Richard Smith feeds corn into a 1920s-era John Deere corn sheller Saturday at the annual Cincinnatus Corn Fest.

Staff Reporter

CINCINNATUS — The annual Corn Fest was back in full swing Saturday after a scaled-down version was held at a different location last year, as hundreds arrived for a day of family fun, food and music.
Set up on the recently renovated Cincinnatus Central School grounds, the festival featured most of the usual favorites community members have come to expect after 14 years, said Nancy Schreiber, the festival’s organizer.
Saturday marked the festival’s fourteenth year. There was live music and food vendors accompanied by the weekly farmers market.
“Everybody comes together for this,” Schreiber said.
Families stood in lines, some as much as 20 feet long, under a clear blue sky and warm weather for various treats, including corndogs, hamburgers and corn fritters.
Thirteen-year-old Alayna Eaton said she is a big fan of the corn festival.
“I just like hanging with my friends and family and seeing the community together,” Eaton said.
She ranked the salt potatoes as her No. 1 treat at the festival.
“It’s because I’m just a potato girl, I guess,” Eaton said when asked why.
But perhaps the most eagerly sought snack at the corn festival is the homemade corn chowder, which is prepared by six women from the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Cincinnatus.
The chowder is famous for being sold out within a few hours, said Donna Law, one of the women who prepared and served the chowder.
“They just seem to love it,” Law said.
Last year, the chowder was sold out after two hours, but it lasted a bit longer this year. The 90 gallons worth of chowder was first served shortly after 10 a.m., when the festival began, and lasted until about 1 p.m.
Law thought the chowder seemed to go faster than it did last year, adding serving it inside the school cafeteria made it easier for people to crowd to. In years past, the chowder was served outdoors with the other food vendors.
“We’ve got it down to a base recipe,” Law said.
She said a local woman submitted the recipe many years ago in a cookbook distributed to the churchgoers and has since been used as the base recipe for the corn festival’s featured dish.
Law said 22 buckets of corn, 150 pounds of potatoes and 48 pounds of bacon were used in this year’s batch. The ingredients are from local farmers.
Cooking the potatoes 50 pounds at a time, it took more than one hour before the first batch was ready, she said.
Schreiber has organized the corn festival for the past five years, jumping at the chance after she and her husband moved from Florida.
“It was one of the best ways to assimilate myself into the community,” she said.
The festival also attracted residents from towns outside the county. Pat and Gene Calistri of Binghamton brought their dog, a golden retriever named Cooper, to the festival after a friend suggested they spend the day.
“We thought it would be bigger, but it’s nice for a little community,” Pat Calistri said.
Last year, the festival had to adapt and scale down somewhat due in part to a lack of volunteers, said Schreiber.
There was also extensive remodeling of the school grounds, which was for the most part complete this year.
The festival last year became more of an extension of the farmers market, instead being held at the Rural Services Center, next to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church.


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