September 22, 2008


Scaled down Cincy corn fest keeps tradition going

Annual festival moves to new site, has hard time finding volunteers


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer     
Delanie Renz, 2, removes kernels from a corn cob Saturday as part of the Rural Services kids activities at the Cincinnatus Corn Festival.

Staff Reporter

CINCINNATUS — Faced with a bit of adversity, the organizers of the annual Cincinnatus Corn Festival found a way to adapt this year.
Corn fritters cooked as usual Saturday, the Snack Shack was selling burgers and farmers sold corn chowder (gone within two hours), cooked corn and bagged corn.
But otherwise the festival focused on a larger version of the weekly farmers market.
The festival was in danger of not happening at all, due to a lack of volunteers and ongoing construction at Cincinnatus Central School, which made the school grounds unavailable.
So a scaled-down version took place at the Rural Services Center, next to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church.
As sun bathed the valleys around the village, Nancy Schreiber of the festival committee said this would do just fine as a way to keep the festival alive.
“Next year, hopefully we’ll find more volunteers, and maybe we’ll go back to the school or we could look at the new fire department field days lot,” Schreiber said, referring to land on Route 26, where the Cincinnatus Fire Department plans to build a fire station and hosted this year’s field days.
The festival is also facing a lawsuit from the family of a boy injured during the 2006 festival. Jacob Brown suffered a fractured skull when he fell off a pickup truck during the parade and hit the pavement, according to two lawsuits filed by his family in state Supreme Court, the first in April 2007 and the second on July 21. The lawsuits seek damages from the school district, town of Cincinnatus, Corn Festival organizers and the driver of the pickup.
Agriculture matters in Cincinnatus and Solon, Schreiber emphasized, noting the acres of cornfields in either direction, some of it devastated by a hailstorm in August. She indicated that people in southeastern Cortland County find a way to keep going when things go wrong.
Solon horticulturist Paul Halstead displayed perennials and tomatoes as the day wound down. He said he’d sold nine pints of strawberries, and would have sold more.
“I couldn’t pick any more,” he said. “We lost about a half hour of daylight last week, so the days are shorter.”
Malcolm Brown and his daughter, Sue Hunt, said their business was brisk in tomatoes, spinach and Swiss chard.
Schreiber said some farmers had planted corn late so they were still picking ears to sell, stretching the season from July until now. She and Halstead said the summer, while rainy, was excellent for growing.
The festival’s 30-foot float depicting an ear of corn sat next to the road. Schreiber said the float, built from plastic jugs on a frame two years ago, is stored in a barn in Pitcher and brought out for parades.
Schreiber was optimistic about next year.
“We’ll start in February, looking for volunteers,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll find more. Between the school and the fire department’s field, we have some options.”


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