Darien to host 57th annual Cornfest event Sept. 8-10
VILLAGE OF DARIEN—Come for the corn and stay for the, well ... everything else.
Darien celebrates its 57th annual Cornfest in September, and the staple summer event will be packed with things to do.
Sports tournaments, live music, tractor pulls, clogging, carnival rides, a parade, a weird game called “Hammerschlagen”—Cornfest has them all.
“There's something for everyone,” said Kathy Boss, Cornfest president.
Of course, it wouldn't be Cornfest without corn. Fifteen tons of sweet corn have been donated to the event, Boss said.
“You can go eat sweet corn until you throw up,” she said, laughing.
But back to Hammerschlagen for a minute. This is a game where players compete to be the first to use a wedged hammer to pound a nail into a stump. Usually it involves drinking, and even carpenters sometimes have a hard time not bending the nail, Boss said.
Relatively new this year is the Big Corn Shell Out. Participants buy $100 raffle tickets, and as names are drawn one-by-one, individuals are eliminated from the $10,000 grand prize.
Once down to the last five tickets, the remaining participants can choose to split the prize or keep going until one winner remains. It's exciting to watch, Boss said.
The festival also features a craft fair, fireworks and the Liberty Bike Ride, during which at least 50 motorcycles will slowly drive through the village, Boss said.
Boss said she couldn't guess the festival's annual attendance, but she said “we get a lot of people.”
It's like a county fair, only cheaper. After 57 years, residents know when Cornfest is, and they look forward to it, she said.
So what makes the festival such a success when other summer events vie for residents' attention?
“I think because of the free sweet corn, free parking, free entertainment,” Boss said.
The things that do cost money—such as beer, food and carnival rides—funnel profits back toward local sponsors such as American Legion Post 450, the Darien Crossed Irons Firefighters Association and the Darien Community Club.
Cornfest profits also might help fund park walkways and two new scoreboards for the village, Boss said.
“This money goes back into the community, somehow, some way. That's a big thing,” she said. “And I think that makes people happy.”