What began as a gathering at the Witten Farm near Beverly, Ohio in the late 1990’s has since blossomed into a festival that now spans from one edge of Muskingum Park in Marietta, Ohio to the other. Fellow corn lovers united this past weekend to share their passion for family, fun, and of course, local homegrown sweet corn.
The tenth annual Marietta Sweet Corn Festival drew crowds from all over the MOV. And if a delicious ear of corn didn’t tickle the taste buds, there were other options to fill that void. Activities for the kiddos included a carousel, a petting zoo, and a coin hunt to name a few. Live music, craft vendors, and a car show were also part of the festivities.
But let’s get back to that infamous Witten’s sweet corn. Corn is great, but I think most of us can agree there’s something about Marietta sweet corn that makes it far superior. Julie Witten, who helps manage the third generation family-owned business, says the secret is in the soil. “The sandy soil of the Muskingum River grows the sweetest, most tender corn EVER.” I think the public will agree, since over 6,000 ears were gobbled up at last year’s festival.
Another reason the corn is so quickly consumed- it’s picked straight from the field and brought in fresh both Friday and Saturday morning. As told by Mark Doebrich, Sweet Corn Festival Vice Chair, the fresh corn is roasted by Cowboy Dan Concessions. The American Legion volunteers their time to help peel back the husks. And of course, the ears have to be dipped in melted butter to complete the process.
Want something other than corn? No problem. Aside from Cowboy Dan Concessions, festival goers had the option to nibble on goodies provided by Uncle Dan’s Ice Cream, the Marietta Noon Lions, and Country Roads Kettle Corn. Witten’s also had a booth that sold tomatoes, cantaloupe, peaches, and of course their homegrown sweet corn.
While the festival’s central theme is corn, there is a deeper meaning as well. Each year, two scholarships are awarded to Washington County high school seniors pursuing a degree in agriculture or a related field. Mark Doebrich tells how the scholarships have grown from $250 each, to $500 each, and now to $750 each. Julie Witten drives the point home by expressing “it’s exciting to bring everyone together and have a great community event. People can gather together and share in the celebration of local agriculture.”
Miss out on the Sweet Corn Festival last week? No worries. As I see it, this festival will gain more momentum with each passing year. Aside from the vendors, the activities and entertainment are free to the public. As Mark Doebrich stated, “a family of five can eat for $10.” Can’t beat that. In the meantime, Witten’s will be selling their delectable sweet corn well into October. Mark the calendar for next July because as Julie Witten proclaimed, “the festival brings the community together…all around a good ear of corn.”