By JOLENE CRAIG
MARIETTA, Ohio — Several thousand people are expected to fill Muskingum Park on Front Street in downtown Marietta this Friday-Saturday for the sixth annual Marietta Sweet Corn Festival.
“We expect to sell between 5,000 and 6,000 ears of corn,” said Tom Witten, with Witten Family Farm.
This farm, located on Ohio 60 between Beverly and Lowell, north of Marietta, has donated fresh corn to the festival every year to keep costs down and attendance up. Between the $1 ears of corn and free admission and entertainment, the cost for a family to attend the event is low.
The corn is roasted by Cowboy Concessions, which has volunteered its cooking service every year of the festival to aid in allowing the event committee to raise and keep as much money as possible.
“Several years ago a group of citizens got together and decided to have an old-fashioned festival downtown and give families something fun to do without costing them an arm and a leg,” said Festival Committee Co-Chair Jessie Bigley. “We believe we have reached that goal each year, because we saw more than 4,500 people last year and hope to see as many this year.”
Farmers in the Ohio River Valley claim the area is the home of the sweetest corn in the country. “One of our goals is to celebrate Marietta’s farming heritage,” Bigley said.
The Washington County area was once a “truck farming” location with prominent crops including beans, potatoes, tomatoes and, of course, sweet corn. “That heritage is very important, because it is why people are here in southeastern Ohio, and we need to teach it and remember it,” she said.
“We think it is important to highlight Marietta’s success in farming and bring people together to celebrate that in a spirit of fun and community. I think we’ve done that in the past and hope to continue to do it in the years to come.”
The festival will kick off at 5 p.m. July 19, with food and craft vendors as well as games and rides and will continue through Saturday with live music and other activities.
Along with the usual local craft vendors and activities for the family that include children’s corn-on-the-cob eating contests, craft and cornhole games, there will be antique engines on display and a pedal tractor pull. For the second year there will also be a petting zoo.
“We want to give children a chance to see all different kinds of animals, and this petting zoo will allow them to meet miniature horses, goats, alpaca and calves,” Bigley said.
All the corn is donated to the festival and roasted and the funds collected from its sale will go to next year’s festival and scholarships for area FFA students pursuing a degree in agriculture or related areas.
Hours for the Marietta Sweet Corn Festival are 4 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday. Admission and parking are free.
For more information, call 800-288-2577 or visit the festival website at www.mariettasweetcorn.com