34th annual Corn Fest ‘not the same’

By Dave Gong

Corn Fest 2011 drew mixed reviews from vendors and patrons.

The 34th annual free music festival was held Friday through Sunday at the DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport.

DeKalb resident Rich Hawbaker said Corn Fest has not been the same since the location was changed several years ago from downtown DeKalb. Hawbaker grew up in DeKalb and has been coming to Corn Fest every year since he was a kid.

“It’s not as good as it was when it was downtown,” Hawbaker said. “It’s still fun. It’s just not the same.”

Hawbaker said the festival brought more business to the downtown area when it was held in that location.

One Corn Fest vendor was displeased with Corn Fest compared to other festivals.

Angela Kirking, owner and operator of Be Bold- Face & Body Art, said the cost to set up a tent at Corn Fest was more expensive than what she usually pays.

“It’s not as profitable as some other festivals I have done,” Kirking said. “It was more than I usually pay and I expected a better turnout.”

Bernie Donnelly, cubmaster for Cub Scout Pack 173, said he saw fewer vendors.

“Access is limited this year,” he said.

Donnelly said his troop has participated in Corn Fest for over 10 years, selling lemonade, iced tea and water to festival patrons.

The pack found support from Corn Fest patrons.

“We get a lot of familiar faces every year to help support the scouts,” said Donna Klemm, webelo leader for Pack 173.

Donnelly said the money Pack 173 raises at Corn Fest goes toward camping trips, awards and prizes for the scouts.

Another vendor who saw success with Corn Fest attendees was the NIU Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Corn Fest 2011 was the first year the office had its own tent, said Sherry Christensen, admission counselor in the NIU Undergraduate Admissions Transfer Center.

Christensen said many prospective high school, junior high and grade school students visited the tent this weekend to learn more about NIU.

“They like to see us here,” Christensen said. “Anything we can do to be positive for the community.”

Some patrons enjoyed sharing the festival’s activities and attractions with fellow DeKalbians.

The festival hosted three nights of live music, featuring southern rock band 38 Special Saturday night. The festival also offered attractions and rides such as Auto Fest, a vintage auto show, on Saturday, as well as bi-plane rides and a beer garden.

Corn Fest also provided entertainment for children, including face-painting, carnival rides and other activities.

DeKalb resident Deana Colby said the best thing about going to Corn Fest was seeing all the people one wouldn’t normally see in DeKalb.