Cornfest committee reschedules date

By Michael Berg

NIU students will get to attend the DeKalb Cornfest in 1992 despite some merchants desire to schedule the festival in July instead of late August.

The Cornfest committee decided to move the festival date from the weekend before fall semester begins to the weekend after it begins.

“I’m grateful that (the committee) made that decision, but it still doesn’t address the needs of the community,” said Mary Wilson, the owner of the Hillside Restaurant in DeKalb.

Wilson said the festival should be moved to a date in July. “We can always do something for the students when they come back, maybe (in coordination) with the university,” she said.

Wayne Studniarz, a member of the 1992 Cornfest committee, said that Cornfest should be held when students are back in DeKalb. “Merchants can’t ask students to shop in their stores for nine months out of the year and then have the biggest festival of the year when they’re not here,” Studniarz said.

Studniarz also said corn is only available six weeks out of the year, so if the festival were held in July, there would be no corn.

“We want to see the students come back and participate. They are a part of the community,” Studniarz said, adding many student volunteers to help out in the festival and scheduling the event without them here would hurt it.

Wilson said she was concerned about the location of the beer garden and sound stage on 2nd Street, where her restaurant is located. The location “doesn’t address my needs as a merchant,” Wilson said.

She said the stage and beer garden should be moved to a place like NIU’s East Lagoon which is more accessible for people.

Studniarz said the committee is looking into moving the stage and garden, but they must find a large enough area where power is available or find out how expensive it would be to get power to the area.

Another issue facing the committee is how to handle vendors who come in from out of town during the festival.

Wilson said the festival should be similar to the Pumpkin Festival, which is smaller and simpler. “I think we should take a hard look at the Cornfest with the state of the economy.”

She said the event should be more localized. “Merchants are faced with too much out-of-town competition,” Wilson said. “Out-of-town merchants come in more organized because they do this professionally. It’s hard for the church groups and local organizations to compete.”

Studniarz said the committee is looking into localizing the event. “When we have that many people downtown spending money, we have to be creative,” Studniarz said.

Some vendors come in with things that aren’t available here. “We must serve the food people want,” Studniarz said.

“We are definitely considering more family-oriented and children’s activities,” Studniarz said. Attendance at the children’s events went up dramatically in 1991, and Studniarz wants to plan more for next year. “Changes really require help from everyone,” Studniarz said. “People can’t want changes and sit back and do nothing.”