Sweet Corn Festival Friday and Saturday

In addition to all the fun, food and entertainment, folks attending this weekend’s Marietta Sweet Corn Festival at East Muskingum Park will get to sample ears from a historic corn patch recently revived by Witten Farms.

“This year’s corn will come off our new farm that used to be part of the Arrowhead Pines Golf Course,” said Julie Witten, whose family farm has donated the thousands of ears of corn consumed during the annual corn festival.

She said 5,500 ears of corn will be donated for this year’s sixth annual event that runs Friday and Saturday in East Muskingum Park in the 300 block of Front Street in Marietta.

“There are a lot of corn eaters in this area and this corn, called ‘Obsession,’ is our favorite variety. It’s so sweet,” Witten said.

Witten Farms began hosting a corn festival on the farm property along the Muskingum River in the early 1990s, she said.

“We held the festival for four or five years, but it grew to a little more than we could handle,” Witten said. “It’s great that the people in Marietta have taken over this event, and we’re so excited to still be a part of it.”

She said holding the event under the shady trees of East Muskingum Park reminds her of the Witten Farm festival that also took place in the shade of elm trees near the banks of the Muskingum.

Jessie Bigley, president of the Sweet Corn Festival Committee, agreed, noting that the event moved from its original location at Armory Square to East Muskingum Park for the first time last year.

“The armory site could get really hot without much shade,” she said. “It’s so much cooler at the park.”

In addition to the main attraction of sweet corn, Bigley said a wide variety of other foods will be available from vendors that include Cowboy Concessions, Phoenix Concessions and Uncle Dan’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream.

Beyond the great food selection there will be plenty of musical entertainment both Friday and Saturday, beginning with The Moon Band from 6 to 7 p.m. Friday, followed by the Johnny Staats Band from 7 to 9 p.m.

Saturday’s music will be provided by the local High Schools That Rock group, performing two sets at 3 and 5 p.m.. Acoustic sing-along performer Don Muir takes the stage at 4 p.m., and the Price Family bluegrass band wraps up the entertainment at 6 p.m.

Other acts will include balloon artist Bill Owens and magician Steve Dixon, beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday, followed by area cartoonist J.D. Williamson at 2 p.m.

The festival will also include a pedal tractor pull, corn hole games, corn eating contest and a petting zoo.

“The festival is kid-oriented, and family-friendly, and there’s something for everyone,” Bigley said. “I think we’ll also have a lot more tractors in our antique engine and tractor show on Friday and Saturday.”

In addition, a corn hole tournament, sponsored by Mountain State Cornhole in Vienna, W.Va., will be held, beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday. Entry details are available through a link on the festival website at mariettasweetcorn.com.

Bigley also said the festival now has permanent electrical service for vendors and the entertainment stage, thanks to a cooperative effort between the festival committee, city of Marietta, American Electric Power and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 972.

Donations raised by the committee, along with funding from the city’s Community Development Block Grant entitlement, provided the $12,000 needed to run electrical service into the park. IBEW 972 donated labor and equipment for the project, and AEP Ohio is completing the hookup this week.

“We have the electricity, now I just hope the weather holds up for the weekend,” Bigley said.

A portion of the proceeds from the Marietta Sweet Corn Festival goes into a scholarship fund for area senior high school students pursuing an agriculture-related education.

Bigley said the two scholarships given each year have been around $300, but with more support she hopes that figure can be increased.

The 2013 scholarships went to Marietta High graduate Ashley Wilson, who’s attending Wilmington College in the animal science and veterinary program, and Fort Frye High grad Courtney Huck who will pursue veterinary medicine with a focus on zoology at The Ohio State University.