The West Point Sweet Corn Festival is an incredible event to witness. If you have never been to the festival, you should definitely consider doing so, especially if you are not orginally from our area. To see the comminity support and assistance that goes into each year's Festival is absolutely magnificent!
The West Point Sweet Corn Festival had a somewhat modest beginning in 1952. Approximately 50 bushel of sweet corn, donated by local farmers, was served after being boiled in a lard pot from our town's locker plant. Along with the sweet corn, steaks - yes, steaks - were prepared on grills made from halves of 55 gallon barrels. Local clubs and organizations set up booths in the park for the two day event.
During the second year, chicken was added to go along with the steaks. The carnival, The Jack Lindle Show "Broadway of the Midwest" was also an addition. The same carnival, now called "Archway Amusements", is still to this day setting up at our festival.
Other changes, and improvements, have occurred through the years. During the fourth year, chicken became the only entree. As the event grew, our community built their own cooker so that more corn could be boiled at a time. In 1975, the Sweet Corn Festival was lengthened to three days. For many years, the Corn Festival included a pancake supper on Thursday evening, a week before the festival was to start. In the 1980s, this was changed to a pancake breakfast on the Sunday before the festival. The pancake breakfast now runs from 8 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. with the help from the local American Legion members.
In the mid 1980s, Steve and Dianna Burden, from Mt. Union, volunteered their antique stem engine to cook the sweet corn. This engine has been in use ever since. The steam engine cooks approximately 16 ton of sweet corn per year (and growing) which is served free of charge to the general public!
In the 1990s, the Corn Festival has been expanded to four days running Thursday through Sunday. At this time pork chops were added to the menu to be served on Thursday evening. They started cooking approximately 300 pork chops, which has now been expanded to 1,000 pork chops and 82 cases of chicken by the end of the 4 day stretch.
Over the years, many community improvements have been made, thanks to the Festival's profits. Some of these improvements include the shelter house being built int he early 1960s, new cement around the shelter house in 1994, a bike path linking South Park to Pollmiller Lake, basketball courts in the city park, tennis courts, baseball diamond and soccer field at South Park and the most recent improvement was the construction of new playground equipment in the city park for kids and adults. Many substantial donations have also been made to other community projects.
The people of West Point deserve many congratulations. Without their commitment to the Sweet Corn Festival, it could never have soared to its present level of success. The West Point Community Club, the Corn Festival's sponsor, assigns a three hour shift to set up, serve, cook, clean up or to chair a particular festival event to every community member and even some volunteers from surrounding communities. On the Wednesday evening before the Festival, most of the town, and many from out of town, show up to help shuck the corn at what is now called "Shuck Fest". Food, drinks and prizes are now served up at "Shuck Fest" which is sponsored by two local businesses - merschman Seeds Inc. & Lee County Bank & Trust. Also, volunteers work most of the week to set up the corn cooker, chicken pit, bleachers and stage. The Sweet Corn Festival also has a four to six couple committee that volunteers to organize the Festival for two years at a time.
As always, the Festival promises to be a fun time for the entire family. There is always something for everyone, from arts, crafts and carnival rides to bingo in the park! Below are some events that take place every year:
• Free hot, buttered sweet corn is served throughout the festival.
• Barbequed pork chop dinners are available Thursday evening.
• Barbequed chicken dinners are available Friday through Sunday.
• The main stage provides several free entertainment events including: The queen coronation, local dance team performances, sweet corn eating contest, pee-wee drags, junior water fights, horseshoe tournament.
• There are assorted craft booths, bingo and many more items to browse in the park.
• Saturday evening musical entertainment, performs at the main stage.
• A 5k and 10k walk/run takes place Saturday morning.
• A large parade makes it's way through the streets Sunday at noon and mini-tractor pulls roll in Sunday afternoon.