The death of Corn Carnival

Yes, this really exists, and yes, it appears every year.

Wait, what?  No more Corn Carnival?

This must be a joke.

But no, the City ran out of money.  For whatever reason, the businesses who call the Brook home decided not to donate time or money to make the annual celebration a success.  The ladies who sponsor the quilt raffle have all passed on to that great quilting bee in the sky and, while their spirits may be sewing for eternity, that doesn’t put quilts up for raffle prizes here in the land of the living.

No more kettle corn.  No more funnel cakes.  No more mini donuts.

“These kids nowadays, they don’t know what it means to volunteer.  All they care about is me, me, me, I, I, I,” an old man complains to his neighbor.

“Back in my day, things were different.  People cared about community,” the neighbor agrees.  “Not like now.”

“Community?  What’s that?  I’ve forgotten.”

Yes, the death of Corn Carnival was slow but steady.  As the citizens who cared most about community pride moved away or died, no one stepped in to replace them and the festival gradually shrank, until at last there was nothing left.

No more midway.  No more merchants’ tent.  No more grand parade.

The giant ear of corn is long gone, and with it the town’s fraternal spirit.  The town itself is dying, as its carnival before it.


No, Corn Carnival’s not actually dead.  But what if it were?  The end of June wouldn’t be the same (although I thought the same when they moved Carnival from the weekend after July 4th to the weekend before it).  A lot of the work that goes into making Corn Carnival the success that it is is a direct result of volunteer efforts, from the food tent the church runs to the kids distributing water to the 5k runners.

Gladbrook depends quite a bit on volunteers, actually, and I think the town is better for it.  When the new theater/city center was being built a decade ago and the City ran out of money, it was volunteers who finished the construction.  The theater staff are mainly volunteers, and it’s really a lot of fun helping at the concession stand.

I would hate to see the end of town festivals, but a scenario like the one above could easily happen.  It’s up to us to continue the work that our parents and grandparents took so much pride in.  It’s up to us to build and maintain the communities of our youth, to keep them as vibrant and strong as we remember.  It’s up to us to figure out what needs doing and get it done.

Here’s to all the people who make Corn Carnival great each and every year.  Let’s make this year’s festival (which starts this week) the best one yet!

(c) 2014.  All rights reserved.


8 thoughts on “The death of Corn Carnival

    • Kay Kauffman says:

      There were even T-shirts one year that called it “A-maizing.” And surrounding towns have other interestingly-named celebrations: State Center’s Rose Festival, for instance, and Pella’s annual Tulip Time festival, share plant names, but Conrad, Traer, and Union got a bit more creative with Black Dirt Days, the Winding Stairs Festival, and Tarheel Days, respectively.


  1. markrhunter says:

    Boy, I know exactly how that goes. We have a Chain O’ Lakes Festival here, and it’s awfully hard to find volunteers to keep it going these days.


    • Kay Kauffman says:

      The towns around here are all aging – more people die than move in, which has led to a whole host of problems, volunteerism not the least. It’s really a shame, because I can’t imagine a better place to live and work and raise a family than a small town, especially small towns in the Midwest. 🙂


  2. Roger says:

    We don’t have stuff like that. The two I have heard of were celebrating, the end of the war and queen Liz being enthroned. It would be nice to have something a little more often.


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