It was a sticky situation in East Muskingum Park Friday as children ran through bubbles and slathered on face paint, and hundreds gathered to get their fill of sweet, buttery ears of corn on the opening night of the Marietta Sweet Corn Festival.
"She told us yesterday, 'I want to go to the carnival of corn,'" Marietta dad Josh Bilyeu joked as he held steady the juicy ear of sweet corn his 3-year-old daughter Karly was eating.
Karly may have coined a new phrase for the event, which certainly had a carnival atmosphere Friday evening. Children lined up in droves to have their faces painted into characters from whimsical to ferocious.
JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
Steadied by her father’s hand, 3-year-old Karly Bilyeu, of Marietta, gnaws into a succulent ear of sweet corn Friday night as the seventh annual Marietta Sweet Corn Festival got under way.
JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
Nevaeh Wells, 3, of Lowell, gets a butterfly painted on her face Friday night during the Sweet Corn Festival in East Muskingum Park in Marietta. The festival continues Saturday with free entertainment, face painting, bubbles and more.
"They both wanted to be tigers," said Hope Martin, of Marietta, as her daughter Zoey Campbell and another young girl, Emeri Rieder, got their faces painted.
The festival was a great way to spend the evening with her three daughters, said Martin.
"We were supposed to come last year, but it stormed, so they were pretty excited," she said.
If you go
11 a.m. - Corn hole tournament ($40 registration fee per team)
11 a.m. to 7 p.m. - Cartoonist J.D. Williamson
11 a.m. to 7 p.m. - Pampered pets petting farm
11 a.m. to 7 p.m. - Face painting
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Inflatable obstacle course
11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. - Merry-go-round
12 p.m. - Corn eating contest (Ages 8 to 11)
12: 15 p.m. - Corn eating contest (Ages 12 to 15)
12: 30 p.m. - Corn eating contest (Ages 16 and above)
3 p.m - Music by High Schools That Rock
4 p.m. - Music by Don Muir
5 p.m. - Music by High Schools That Rock
5 p.m. - Corn coin hunt (Ages 5 and under)
5:10 p.m.- Corn coin hunt (Ages 6 and 7)
5:20 p.m. - Corn coin hunt (Ages 8 and 9)
5:30 p.m. - Corn coin hunt (Ages 10 to 12)
6 p.m. - Music by The Price Family
Source: Marietta Sweet Corn Festival.
Scott Rieder said 3-year-old Emeri was excited to ride the merry-go-round next.
Beyond the face painting and merry-go-round, children could also play with giant bubbles, get caricatures done and have their hair temporarily dyed-all for free.
But the star of the festival is, obviously, its namesake.
"I like the corn the best," exclaimed 5-year-old Alexis Helmick, of Belpre.
Only an hour into Friday night's festivities, festival president Jessie Bigley said she was confident it would be one of the most successful to date.
"We were worried about the rain, but it's held off, and it looks like we're going to do a record sale of corn," she said.
The corn was donated by Witten Farm Market, she said. And at a dollar an ear, the juicy treats will fund two $500 scholarships for local students going into an agricultural field and the remaining money will help fund future festivals, she said.
A variety of vendors, who lined the sidewalk along Front Street, were in good spirits Friday night.
Seasonal Selections, a salsa jams and jellies outfit from Waynesville, found the Marietta Sweet Corn Festival online, and came as a way to branch out their business, said owner William Moses.
"We're already on the shelves in a lot of stores in the tri-state area," said Moses, referring to southwestern Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. "Now we want to branch out into this part of Ohio."
Moses said customers who tried his salsas Friday night were apt to buy them as well, and he enjoyed the atmosphere.
"You've got a nice setting out here with the river," he noted.
The Sweet Corn Festival continues Saturday with a corn hole tournament and many of the children activities beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday will feature more face painting, merry-go-round rides, a wandering magician, a corn coin hunt, and the ever popular corn eating contest beginning at noon.