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Cornfest a reunion, fundraiser, fun event

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Ian Gronau | September 2, 2014

 DARIEN-- Cornfest, long a community staple in the small village of Darien, is a festival that annually calls home those who remember it from their childhood. And this Sept. 5 through Sept. 7 isn't shaping up to be any different.

“A lot of people who have roots in Darien come back down from wherever they live just for Cornfest,” said Cornfest President Karen Haman. “There are a lot of people I actually grew up with that come home for that weekend most years, it's kind of like a reunion.”

What started in the 1960s as a simple fireman's dance to raise funds for the fire department has blossomed into a 2 1/2-day festival with statewide draw. It includes a fireworks display, a princess pageant, children's entertainment, softball, volleyball and horseshoe tournaments, merchandise and craft vendors, bingo, a tractor pull, a clogger performance, a parade, an auction and raffle just to name a few.

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The much-anticipated softball tournament is far from your average local folks swinging bats, although Cornfest features that as well. The tournament, which starts on Saturday and runs into Sunday, attracts teams from as far as Chicago, Milwaukee and even Rhinelander. The schedule can accommodate up to 32 teams, but tournament organizer Greg Nichols said that lately he has lost a few teams to the World Tournament that takes place in Florida around this time every year.

“The last couple of years we've been averaging about 24 because of the world tournament, so we're always trying to get that back up to 32,” Nichols said. “But this is an opportunity to watch some really great softball. Some of the guys that come down have played minor league ball at one point in time, so we've got some really good players coming out.”

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