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Free corn a main attraction at DeKalb festival

Published: Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 10:40 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Sept. 2, 2013 11:49 p.m. CDT
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(Mary Beth Nolan for Shaw Media)
Volunteers Austin Buehler (left) of Malta and Bob Lavigne scoop out cooked corn Saturday at the DeKalb Corn Festival. Bryan Klatt, corn boil supervisor, said more than 15,000 ears of free corn were boiled and eaten in the 36-year-old festival. It was cooked using a 1918 steam tractor.

DeKALB - Cortland resident Donna Klemm said she has been to the Corn Fest every year as long as she can remember, and now that it was back downtown, it was much better.

“When it was at the airport, it was just a DeKalb festival. It wasn’t Corn Fest,” Klemm said. “Corn Fest is in downtown DeKalb in the community of DeKalb.”

The festival spent the last five years at DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport, but returned to its downtown origins Friday. The downtown location also gave attendees the opportunity to visit the local businesses which would benefit from the big crowds, Klemm said.

After heavy rains temporarily shut down the festival Friday evening, crowds flocked to downtown DeKalb on Saturday for the corn boil, carnival rides, beer garden and music. The festival continues Sunday; for details, see

The carnival rides included a carousel, Ferris wheel and slides. There were also plenty of games, where people could try their chances at winning prizes such as giant stuffed animals.

DeKalb resident Sherry Peters and her grandchildren were at one of those games, where one of the children won a plastic sword.

Peters said it was her first time bringing her grandchildren to the festival.

“I used to go all the time, but I didn’t even bother when it was at the airport,” she said. “It’s very important to bring [my grandchildren] so they become part of the community and the things happening around town.”

One of the main attractions Saturday was the The Chuck Siebrasse Corn Boil, where all-you-can-eat buttered corn was handed out for free. Corn Fest organizers planned to serve more than 70 tons of steamed sweet corn throughout the weekend, according to its website.

When DeKalb resident Scott Groezinger first came to the Corn Fest with his family, they headed straight for the corn boil.

Groezinger’s family came all the way from Minnesota for the Labor Day weekend mainly for the Corn Fest, but also to see family, they said. Groezinger said he would show his family around town and visit Ollie’s Frozen Custard in Sycamore before they left.

For more than a few moments, though, the corn captured their attention.

“I didn’t want to miss free corn!” Groezinger said. As he bit into one ear of corn, he said it tasted so good it was worth paying for.

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