With sweet corn kernels on their chins, in their teeth and for the first time this year even in their ice cream, those in downtown Marietta Friday night celebrated the vegetable with the third annual festival in its honor.
A block of Front Street was closed to traffic to accommodate hundreds of people browsing craft and jewelry stands, listening to music on the armory lawn and waiting in line for ribs, hot dogs and, of course, hot ears of sweet corn.
"We've been coming since it started - we love it," said Jamie McCombs, of Marietta, who brought her son and 16-month-old twin daughters with her. "We definitely have some corn eaters. It was one of their first solid foods."
KATE YORK The Marietta Times
Marietta resident Jamie McCombs, left, feeds 16-month-old daughter, Adele, corn on the cob Friday night at the Marietta Sweet Corn Festival, while Adele’s twin sister enjoys some french fries.
Witten Farm Market and Greenhouses donated 6,000 ears of corn for the Sweet Corn Festival and expected that most would be gone by the end of the event.
"Marietta really loves its corn," said Julie Witten, who also sells the ears at the farm's stand on Pike Street daily. "This region is very well known for its sweet corn and for having the earliest and sweetest corn in the state. It's really great for us to be here celebrating local food."
For some with the corn craving, it was local food with a twist. For the first time, sweet corn ice cream was sold at the festival.
If You Go
What: Marietta Sweet Corn Festival.
When: 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where: 200 block of Front Street.
Includes: Corn-eating contest at noon, sack races, magic show, pedal pulls, cornhole tournaments and more.
"It's kind of like vanilla but a little sweeter, with pieces of corn in it," said Jessie Bigley, co-chairwoman of the festival committee. "It's really good."
The ice cream was the brainstorm of Dan Warren, owner of Cowboy Dan Concessions, who was busy Friday grilling corn and several kinds of meat.
"Everything's doing well, but the corn is really popular since it's $1 an ear," he said. "The turnout's been great. If you have good weather, you have a good festival."
Friday's storms cleared up in plenty of time for the festival, which also offered a children's area, with face painting and a merry-go-round.
Since the festival was held in conjunction with the Mayor's Third Friday Jubilee, there was live bluegrass music to go along with all the hot, buttery corn.
The festival will continue Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., with a corn-eating contest at noon. Throughout the day, there will be sack races, pedal pulls and craft-making for children, a cornhole tournament and plenty to eat.
The trick to getting the corn just right, said Warren, involves wood and propane roasters and water cookers that steam the ears.
"We cook it in the husk, and it retains the natural moisture," he said. "That's the key."