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‘Ambience’ fuels Corn Fest’s triumphant return to downtown DeKalb

Children ride the Dragon Wagon on Sunday at the 2013 Corn Fest in DeKalb. For the first time in five years, the festival was held in downtown DeKalb.
Children ride the Dragon Wagon on Sunday at the 2013 Corn Fest in DeKalb. For the first time in five years, the festival was held in downtown DeKalb.

DeKALB – Marianne Buehler and her husband Lonnie didn’t attend Corn Fest when it was held at the DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport the past five years.

They liked the festival when it was held in downtown DeKalb, which was good for them this year as Corn Fest returned there. For many who attended Corn Fest this year, the downtown location had more to offer. 

“It’s more of a community feel,” Marianne Buehler said, “...and the local businesses can participate in it.” 

This year’s weekend-long festival brought a positive response from both audiences and businesses, said Lisa Angel, chairwoman of the Corn Fest committee. On Saturday, the people came out in force, she said. 

Corn given away for Saturday’s Chuck Siebrasse Corn Boil ran out by 1 p.m. The event was scheduled between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. About 15,000 ears of corn were given out. 

“That was the largest Saturday we had in a long time,” she said. 

While the festival seemed more popular than ever this year, a storm Friday threatened to dampen the fun. At least three hours of the festival was interrupted by the storm but volunteers – many of them not registered as volunteers – helped keep the tents up as the wind blew hard, she said. 

“That’s what’s so great about this community here,” Angel said. “People will jump in and help.” 

Angel said a meeting to plan next year’s festival will be held in two weeks. The festival will be during the Labor Day weekend and typically it will continue to be held after move-in day for Northern Illinois University, she said.  

DeKalb resident Correy Nathan has visited Corn Fest twice but he liked the airport location better. He liked the parking in the grass areas at the airport and found parking hard for this year’s festival. Nevertheless, he enjoyed the food and the music.

“It’s a great event for a small town like DeKalb,” Nathan said. 

DeKalb resident Sharon Austin has visited Corn Fest since 1987 and came to the festival this year with her daughters and grandchildren. Having the festival at the airport didn’t sit right with her. 

“It was just manufactured,” she said. “This is hometown.” 

While there may be some minor tweaks for the festival next year, Angel said for the most part Corn Fest ran smoothly this year. She was appreciative of the volunteers who helped out and the businesses who sheltered people during the stormy parts. 

Many of the people who haven’t been to downtown DeKalb got to see all the changes the city put into making the area beautiful, she said. 

“The nice thing about moving [Corn Fest] back downtown is the ambiance,” Angel said.  

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