WILMINGTON — From ’tweens tossing eggs, corn cobs and each other (leap frog), and from live music and demonstrations to turning beds, shuckin’ corn, driving nails and steaming engines, the 2016 Clinton County Corn Festival powers up this weekend.
The 39th annual event, hosted by the Antique Power Club of Clinton County, begins at 10 a.m. Friday at the Clinton County Fairgrounds in Wilmington and continues Saturday and Sunday.
Probably the “biggest thing new this year” is the booking of a premier oldies band from Columbus, a classic rock group named the Gas Pump Jockeys. Playing music from the 1950s through ’70s, the band is a more well-known name than most live music acts at the Corn Festival over the years, said Corn Festival Chairman Dale Mayer.
The Gas Pump Jockeys will perform on the Sound Stage from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday.
Mayer said the Corn Festival Committee doesn’t want to change the feel of the festival and moreover wants to keep what everybody loves, but it does want to try a few new things to see whether they generate interest.
This will be the first year that the Agronomy Club of Wilmington College will be in charge of several games for high school and college-age people. Those include tire flipping (ages 16 through 26) and an obstacle course on Sunday afternoon.
Also Sunday afternoon, the Wilmington High School vocal group Wilmingtones will present “Swing, Swing, Swing” a medley of songs from the 1940s Swing era, as well as “For the Longest Time” by Billy Joel, and “Budapest” made popular by George Ezra, said Wilmingtones Director David Beck.
While the festival committee sets up and coordinates the three-day event, it’s community members that add enthusiasm to the mix through their participation and attendance, pointed out Mayer.
In addition to the 10 a.m. Saturday parade through the downtown, a signature festival event is the 7 p.m. Saturday Corn Olympics. Emcee Jonathan McKay is back for his second year. He’s chosen the theme “Caddyshack” after the 1980 golf comedy film starring Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Michael O’Keefe, Bill Murray and Chuck Rodent as Mr. Gopher.
To go along with the “Caddyshack” theme, the Corn Olympics will feature — instead of a toilet seat toss — the pitching of a golf ball into a toilet seat, he said.
A member of the Antique Power Club, McKay expects to take part in an antique tractor pull at the pulling track.
“We take the tractor games pretty seriously,” said McKay, who has attended all 30 Corn Festivals held since his birth. One year, he broke an arm on Labor Day weekend, and so he asked Dr. Thomas Matrka for a yellow cast to wear to the Corn Festival.
One of the tractor games is the blind tractor obstacle course 4 p.m. Saturday. In this activity, the tractor driver is blindfolded and a person behind the driver tells them where to steer in order to navigate the obstacle course.
The late summer festival pays homage to farming heritage and culture, McKay said.
“The Corn Festival is one of the great Clinton County events. People look forward to it, from the parade to the food to the atmosphere, and I am very proud to be a part of it,” he said.
The food booths are a big draw. A small sampling can include Beta Sigma Phi Sorority steak sandwiches, Boy Scout Troop 154 roasted sweet corn, Community Action pressed chicken sandwiches, Clinton County Women’s Club butterfly chops, Chester Friends Meeting homemade ice cream, Masonic District 20-20 Vision Fund apple dumplings, Wilmington Lions Club corn dogs and sloppy joes, plus more non-profits and more foods for a cause.
The 2016 Corn Festival Committee is comprised of Dale Mayer, Erma Bernard, Charlotte Fahr, Bryan and Melissa Brown, Patti Flint, Debbie McKenzie, Roger Pence, Sandy Sampson, Barb Davis, Molly Mickle, JB Brown and Peggy and Roy Eades.
This year, the featured tractor is Cockshutt.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger. Reach Tom Barr at 937-382-2574 or on Twitter @ThomasBarr.