The 200 block of Front Street will be filled with the smell of hot, fresh, buttered sweet corn and the sound of bluegrass music Friday evening as the Marietta Sweet Corn Festival kicks off.
The event continues through Saturday evening, and a number of activities are planned. Witten Farm Market and Greenhouses will provide the corn, which will cost $1 per ear. The Johnny Staats Bluegrass Band will take the stage from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday for the Mayor's Third Friday Jubilee, which is being held in conjunction with the festival.
Jessie Bigley, co-chairwoman of the festival, said this is the third year for the event, which usually attracts quite a crowd.
"The last couple years, we've sold around 5,000 ears of corn," she said. "It's growing each year and we hope that it continues to grow."
The festival will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, and there will be cornhole, face painting, and a merry-go-round available for children. Cartoonist J.D. Williamson will also be on hand.
"The children's area is all free, which makes it great for families," Bigley said.
Marietta Sweet Corn Festival schedule:
Friday: 6 to 8:30 p.m., cornhole (just for fun), face painting, merry-go-round and cartoonist J.D. Williamson.
Saturday: 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m, sack races, corn eating contests, magic marker show, ceremony for festival scholarship recipients, magic show, pedal pulls, coin hunts cornhole tournaments and more.
Where: 200 block of Front Street.
Corn is $1 per ear.
The event starts up again at 11 a.m. Saturday and will wrap up at 8:30 Saturday night. Sack races, pedal pulls, coin hunts and craft making are a few of the activities that are planned for children. There will also be corn eating contests beginning at noon for people ages eight and up. Participants will be divided into three different age categories, and trophies will be awarded to first place winners in each category.
There will also be cornhole tournaments held Saturday, hosted by Mountain State Cornhole. The Vienna, W.Va.-based company creates custom cornhole boards and rents out boards.
There will be singles and doubles cornhole tournaments held Saturday, with a $10 and $30 entry fee required per team, respectively. Bigley said a total of $600 in cash prizes will be handed out.
She said proceeds from the festival go toward covering costs for the following year's festival, as well as scholarships.
"(We) give scholarships to FFA students who are continuing their education in the agricultural field," she said. "Right now, the scholarship is $250, but as the festival grows, we want the scholarship to grow."
She said three recent high school graduates received scholarships this year. They are Kalliegh Mason, from Marietta High School, Katie Fisher, from Warren High School and Maggie Adlen, from Frontier High School.
Bigley said a committee of about 12 people started planning the festival in March, and there are also about 75 volunteers who help out during the event.
Elsa Thompson, 76, of Marietta has been volunteering since the festival first started three years ago. She said she wipes off tables after people finish their sweet corn, and she also coordinates the River City Farmer's Market, which will be set up during the jubilee and from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of Butler and Front Streets.
"There will be lots of nice, fresh produce, baked goods and crafts, as well," she said.
Thompson said she keeps volunteering year after year because she thinks the festival is an important event for the community.
"I was very involved in starting the first farmer's market in 1975, so I've been interested in grassroots organizing of things that involve people in our community and benefit members of the community and also people we attract to come and visit our community," she said.