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By Pam Reinig

Register Editor


With July 4 behind us, it’s time to look forward to Elkader’s next big event: Sweet Corn Days.

Look for a few changes this year. The event has new organizers, Danielle and Caleb Shea, who are being assisted this year by long-time coordinator  Holly Purman. There’s also a new date. Historically, held the third weekend in July, this year’s event will be July 27 through July 30.

Some of the entertainment offerings are new, as well. Central’s recently formed dance team will perform Friday night before the band, Krankstate, which will be makin  its Elkader debut. Other new entertainment includes an 80-foot zip line, inflatable obstacle course, inflatable toddle zone and carnival games. 

“Last year, we had our first ‘Human Foosball,’ which didn’t really take off because of all of the rain,” Danielle said. “So, we’ll bring that back this year along with train rides, the dunk tank, face-painting and balloons. We’re also bringing back canoe and kayak races, which is being planned by Clayton County CAN (see press release on page 4).

Last year, organizers offered a first-ever street fair with vendors. Much of that opportunity was rained out. Rain also negatively impacted the number of wristbands and tickets sold for rides, and forced the Saturday band indoors. That, too, had an impact on revenue.

Danielle explained the profits from the previous year provide seed money for the next event. When profits are down, the committee has fewer funds to use. Despite generous donations and sponsorships from businesses and community members, the committee has to tighten its belt this year.

“Based on the information that I was handed from years past, it costs anywhere from $20,000 to $22,000 to put on Sweet Corn Days,” Danielle added. “I know that might seem crazy but everything adds up.”

One of the larger single-cost items is fireworks, which were re-introduced to the festival a few years ago. The current committee is keeping them despite the cost, however, because of the popular response to the display.

A highly visible, involved and civic-minded couple, the Sheas joined the Sweet Corn Days committee in the waning days of the 2016 event when the future of the festival seemed uncertain.

“The individuals who had organized it in the past felt it was time to pass the torch,” Danielle said. “Caleb and I discussed it and agreed that (the festival) was not something we wanted to see go away. Holly agreed to help one last year and show us the ropes if we’d take it on. We’re learning a lot and doing the best we can to make the right decisions for Sweet Corn Days to make sure it’s an event for families to enjoy for years to come. We love Elkader and the life we have built here, and we’ll do anything we can to keep the economic growth and vitality of our home.”

Danielle admits that she and Caleb didn’t realize how much time and effort goes into planning the event. They’re still looking for volunteers and donations. Anyone interested in helping in any way can call Danielle at 245-1122. The festival also has a robust Facebook and web presence that includes a complete schedule of events.

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