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Bittersweet moment as Corn Fest leaves airport

DeKALB – With its return to the downtown this year, Corn Fest and the DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport are amicably parting ways.

Shawn Lowe, the co-chair of the Corn Fest committee, personally thanked the advisory board of the airport for allowing them to host the festival there as construction took place downtown. If the airport hadn’t hosted Corn Fest for five years, the festival probably would have stopped, Lowe said.

“If you guys hadn’t allowed this to happen out here in the first place,” Lowe said, “I don’t think we’d be having this discussion about having it back downtown after having that many years of not having it.”

Lowe works for Shaw Media, which publishes the Daily Chronicle.

Earlier this month, festival organizers announced that Corn Fest was returning to downtown DeKalb during this year’s Labor Day weekend. On Feb. 11, the DeKalb City Council signified its support by petitioning the Illinois Department of Transportation to have parts of Lincoln Highway closed during that weekend.

Airport officials described it as a bittersweet moment. The festival and the crowds it drew interfered with the airport’s daily operations, but also exposed the airport to new people. Still, airport officials said they had expected the festival to return the downtown eventually.

“I think it’s great,” airport manager Tom Cleveland said of the festival’s return. “We’ll miss it, but we’ll do some other things to promote the airport.”

Because the airport receives federal funding, officials had to work closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to shut down part of the airport for Corn Fest, Cleveland said. Although nothing has been planned, Cleveland said airport officials are open to hosting another festival like it in the future.

The airport does have summer events planned. Cleveland said it will host a number of promotional events with the Experimental Aircraft Association, a group of aviation enthusiasts who fly their own modified or home-built aircraft, including a breakfast on June 2.

From May 31 to June 2, the airport will host biplane fly-ins, while children ages 7 to 17 will be able to fly for free June 8 and Aug. 17 as a part of the Young Eagles program, Cleveland said.

Corn Fest-goers who attended the recent festival at the airport could pay to fly with the American Barnstormers – a group of pilots who fly aircraft that saw their glory days between 1918 and 1941.

They could also fly in a replica of “Miss Mitchell” – a Northern American B-25J Mitchell Bomber that flew 151 combat missions and suffered no fatalities during World War II.

Cleveland said they’ve had a number of inquiries from the same pilots about coming back and hosting rides again. No details have been set though.

“We have all these opportunities to bring those aircraft down for the community,” Cleveland said.

To learn more

For information on events being held at DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport, call 815-748-2030.

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