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Published: Thursday, 8/21/2003

Swanton readies for big crowds at annual corn fest

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

SWANTON - The Swanton Corn Festival's prizes for winners of its corn-on-the-cob eating, pizza eating, and puddin' sucking contests are, well, more food.

“They're sitting there about ready to throw up, and you hand them more food,” said festival chairman Joe Kahl with a laugh.

This is the fifth year of the revived festival, which originally ran from 1904 to 1955.

With good weather, Saturday's festival is expected to attract more than 15,000 people to the village's Memorial Park.

A parade of at least 105 units, including 23 floats and nine high school bands, is expected to last at least 90 minutes. The theme is Celebrate Ohio.

Eats will include barbecued chicken - 1,600 halves will be for sale - kielbasa and sweet cabbage, and a variety of other festival foods. Most of the 25 food vendors are local organizations.

For those who choose to make eating a competitive sport, judges will stand by with stopwatches.

Corn eaters will face six ears of sweet corn and pizza eaters will be asked to gobble a large cheese pizza. Both of those contests are for people 16 and older.

For younger gluttons, however, the festival will offer a puddin' sucking contest and time competitors as they suck pudding through a straw.

“If people want to get up there and make a fool of themselves, we'll be more than happy to reward them for their efforts,” Mr. Kahl said.

New this year are a pedal, three-wheeler race for children, a three-on-three basketball tournament, a Swanton Idol contest, and an art show of about six exhibitors.

The festival has had a craft show for years - 51 booths are expected this year - and a merchant's alley, which is expected to draw 23 commercial exhibits.

Profits from the festival, which have ranged from a low of $6,500 on a rainy day to a high of $18,000 in recent years, are designated for a community center.

At the end of this year's festival, Mr. Kahl said he hopes to have $50,000 toward that goal.

“We like to make money, but we don't really care how much we make because the festival is for the community,” he said.



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