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Shippensburg University students explain reason for attending multiple Corn Festivals Video by David Barr

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SHIPPENSBURG - Corn was the star, but the thousands of people at Shippensburg Corn Festival came to the annual event for much more than that.

Started as a way to help local orchards, the annual festival and has grown over its 36 years years and now attracts thousands of people who come to check out the hundreds of vendors and their handmade crafts, listen to music, and enjoy the namesake vegetable, either in its ear or popped form.

Corn Festival President Debbie Weaver said  all the money raised from the event goes right back into the community and town, for things such as street signs and library renovations. A good year can bring in $10,000.

"It's a really good gathering of people, of not only Shippensburg, but people all around," Weaver said. "People really enjoy it. When you have 30,000 to 40,000 people, there really is joy."

Weaver said the committee takes 11 months out of the year to plan the festival. Planning for next year's event is about to get started, and applications for vendors and other participants will be available in October.

"It takes a lot of volunteers throughout the community to put this show all together," Weaver said. "I appreciate that very much."

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Two of the most popular things that keep large crowds returning are the corn-eating contest and Corny the Scarecrow.

The corn-eating contest has been around for five years, Weaver said. Contestants battle each other, the clock, and themselves to see who can eat the most ears of corn in three minutes. This year's winner was Tom Townsend, who gobbled down nine ears of corn in the allotted time.

Corny the Scarecrow has been a part of the festivities for the last 20 years.

"He's a very popular item," Weaver said.

He's so popular he had groups of people waiting their turn to have their picture taken with him and to be told to "have a corny day." Such was the case for Julie Sanders and her friends Amanda Jurgelewicz, Laura Weikel, and Kaitlynn Kuhns. Despite being juniors this year at Shippensburg University, they never attended the Corn Festival before because they were "never feeling corny enough" to attend, they said. They came to check out the edible concoctions and take in the sights.

"It's nice to see the townspeople together," Sanders said.

Although they were enjoying their first time at the festival, they did offer a few suggestions to improve it, such as adding a horse-riding portion and a karaoke stand.

Delaney Sandberg and Bret Thomas, Shippensburg University students, were not Corn Festival neophytes, having attended the festival the past two years.

"It's kind of a tradition now. We like to come down just to see what changes every year," Thomas said. "There's a lot of good stuff that comes out, a lot of small businesses I like to support. It's a good time."

"We're all about supporting small businesses," Sandberg added.

Thomas' support for local small businesses comes naturally, as he is an entrepreneurship major at Shippensburg.

Along with groups of friends and college students, families were plentiful on the streets Saturday. Donna Kissinger and her two young children Katie and Colton, were continuing a long-standing family tradition of attending the festival. Donna estimated she's been attending the festival for 20 years and said the family comes almost every year.

"We just enjoy coming and looking around and shopping," Kissinger said. "We just always have a good time."

David Barr, 717-881-7020

 

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