Corn Fest had locals smiling from ear to ear

By Ginger Simons

The smell of barbecue and the sound of corn sizzling on the grill filled downtown DeKalb Friday as the community came together to attend the 41st annual Corn Fest.

Corn Fest, which ran from Friday through Sunday, featured live music, local vendors and carnival attractions, all squeezed between First and Fourth streets in downtown DeKalb. The event has grown steadily since it first began as a corn boil in 1957, going on to become a community event with food vendors and music in 1977, according to the event website.

Now with a vast array of attractions, Corn Fest is attended by over 100,000 people each year, and this year’s festival supplied the entertainment that’s been loved by the DeKalb community for four decades.

North American Midway Entertainment provided the carnival attractions, and patrons boldly took to the towering rides that soared above the hustle and bustle below. Corn Fest-goers Eric Mortensen and Kristin Talac said their favorite rides are the Fireball and the Zipper.

Although the duo was defeated by a ball toss game, their spirits were not dampened.

“The corn did not disappoint,” Mortensen said after Talac expressed approval of her cup of buttered corn.

Many artists have graced the Corn Fest stage over the years, including Lady Antebellum, Joan Jett, Survivor, Blue Oyster Cult, Jefferson Starship, Eddie Money and The Grass Roots. This year, a variety of tribute bands paid homage to music of another time. Beatles tribute band American English rocked the crowd with hits like “She Loves You” and “From Me to You,” and Dark Desert Eagles gave the crowd a peaceful easy feeling with their covers of hit Eagles songs.

The festival has something for all ages, and many of the event’s most excited patrons were only just tall enough to get on the rides.

DeKalb residents Amber and Jake Brandstedler brought their 11-month-old English bulldog Sid to the event. However, the couple said the reason they’ve attended Corn Fest each year since they moved to DeKalb is for their three children.

While Corn Fest may have provided the incoming NIU freshman who moved in Aug. 25 an exciting glimpse of what DeKalb has to offer, Anthony Sperando, Assistant Director of Marketing and Game Experience at NIU, took to the event to do the same.

While taking a break from advertising the NIU football team, Sperando got up onto the karaoke stage and gave the audience a stirring rendition of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”

“I’m here all three days, and we’re just trying to get people to come out to the [NIU Athletics] events,” Sperando said. “We just want all students and faculty to come out to the [football] game against Utah Sept. 8.”

Corn Fest is not only a place where locals can come to celebrate the history of DeKalb, it’s also a place for guests to learn more about what local groups and businesses have to offer the community.