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Enjoying the Sweet Corn Fest

How sweet it is! The 11th annual Marietta Sweet Corn Festival was held Friday and Saturday in Muskingum Park in Marietta. The weather cooperated and thousands of people enjoyed approximately 8,000 ears of locally grown mouth-watering Witten Farm Market sweet corn dipped in butter as well as enjoying entertainment and activities for people of all ages.

The Marietta Sweet Corn Festival is a family-oriented event celebrating local agriculture and promoting agricultural education. The money raised goes towards some scholarships for Washington County graduating seniors and towards next year’s festival.

“It’s going great. We had a fantastic night Friday with the park being full and it was wonderful,” said Jessie Bigley, Sweet Corn Festival chairperson.

Bigley commented that in addition to seeing people enjoy eating corn on the cob, one of the most satisfying parts of having the Sweet Corn Festival is seeing the kids enjoying themselves.

“If you go down to the children’s area, you’ll see them having so much fun and it’s all free,” emphasized Bigley. “With financial challenges, many families can’t afford spending a lot of money. Here, they can spend the whole day doing things such as the craft tent, petting zoo, riding the carousel and playing games.”

There were indeed many things going on during the two-day Sweet Corn Festival. Children’s activities included cartoonist J.D. Williamson, a Merry-Go-Round, face painting, a craft tent, the pedal tractor pull, a coin hunt, the Pampered Pets Petting Farm and corn hole among many others.

Live entertainment included Matt Petty & the Whiskey Chasers, Johnny Staats & the Delivery Boys, High Schools that Rock and the Marietta Children’s Choir. On the far end of Muskingum Park on Saturday many enjoyed the Noble County Cruzer’s Car & Truck Show and also seeing antique tractors and gas engines in action. There were also many food trucks and vendor tents for the crowd to check out.

After 11 years, the fresh corn on the cob served at the festival is still just a dollar an ear and that corn is all donated by Witten Farm Market & Greenhouse. Having donated nearly 8,000 ears of corn this year alone, that adds up to a tremendous amount of corn over the years.

“The community has certainly been good to us,” expressed Bonnie Witten. “We feel like donating the corn is something we can do for them. We are so busy with our farm we just don’t have a big chance to volunteer a lot. By doing this, we are trying to help out the community.”

A corn festival was actually held on the Wittens Farm for a few years before the Marietta Sweet Corn Festival. The event grew and eventually moved to Marietta and became the festival that it is now. Witten said it is a good feeling to see how the festival has grown and seeing it become a whole community effort.

The Witten Farm is a third generation family owned farm now in its 60th year. The farm is now being run by three of Bonnie and Jerry’s children. They now have 22 farm markets stretching all the way to Columbus. To learn more about Witten Farm, visit WittenFarm.com.

“This is a fantastic event, we have a lot of fun and it helps raise funds for scholarships,” said Williamson, who performed a children’s show, drew caricatures and also served as emcee for the corn eating contests at the festival. “This festival is a great community event that draws people to our community and I never go home hungry,” he said.

The corn eating competition was divided into three categories; 8-11, 12-15 and 16 and older. Winners were Kennedy Hughes, 8-11; Rylee Burtnett, 2-15 and Isaac Antill in the 18 and over division.

Contestants in the corn eating competition were given two minutes to eat their ears of corn and afterwards judges decided how much they ate and how well they cleared the kernels off the cobs.

Kennedy Hughes, 11, of Parkersburg, won in the 8-11 age group. Using a rotary style method of eating the corn worked out well for her.

DOUG LOYER Special to the Times Everly Larkins of Washington, West Virginia enjoyed playing in the corn with some toys.

“I can just eat really fast,” said Hughes “It was fun to win and the corn was good.”

Kennedy’s mother, Andrea Shrewsbury of Belpre, said this was their first year at the festival and thought that it was great with all the free activities for the children.

Isaac Antill of Caldwell won the 16 and over division as a typewriter type of corn eater.

“It’s great to win this. It’s harder than you think. You have to keep your jaws chomping,” explained Antill. “This festival is pretty fun. We’ve had a blast today.”

“It’s fun feeding the animals,” commented Kristen Jones, 12, of Parkersburg, while visiting the animals in the petting zoo area. “I liked the goats the best.”

Kristen’s mother, Kathy Jones, said that it was their second year at the festival and thought that it was a good atmosphere for the children and she really enjoyed the corn.

Everly Larkins, 1¢, of Washington, West Virginia, liked playing in the loose corn kernels with toys.

“She’s enjoying playing in the corn and it’s keeping her occupied,” said her father Eric Larkins, who came to the festival with his wife, two daughters and a friend.

“We got some corn first and now we’re starting to make our rounds,” stated Larkins. “We came for a little bit of everything.”

Larry Way of Macksburg brought his beautiful bright red 1942 Dodge truck as part of the Noble County Cruzer’s Car & Truck Show which was part of the Sweet Corn Festival.

“It’s a good turnout,” said Way. “I think we have more cars and trucks this year in our show than last year.”

With wonderful food, great music, free kids activities, family fun and the weather cooperating the Marietta Sweet Corn Festival was indeed a sweet event.

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