The South Vienna Corn Festival is an event that is held every September, usually the first week-end after Labor Day, to celebrate the coming of the fall season, and to bring the community together. The Corn Festival began in 1977 and continues to this day. This event attracts people from all over the Columbus, Dayton, and Springfield areas. The festival features a craft market, free entertainment, games, rides, a queen pageant, a parade, and a wide variety of food vendors.
The beginning of the Corn Festival can be traced back to 1976, when the United States was about to have its bicentennial celebration. The village of South Vienna decided to hold a parade to commemorate the event. A Bicentennial Parade Committee was formed, and this committee oversaw all of the preparations for the event. The parade turned out to be a wonderful event for the village, a large crows of people attended the parade, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Due to the success of the parade, many of the Bicentennial Parade Committee members thought it would be a good idea to hold an event in the village every year, and as a result the Corn Festival was born.
The first Corn Festival meeting took place at Henrietta Hocter's house and the first committee was made up of the following people: Toni Keller, Emma Clark, Ruth Frost, Rose Phares, Marvine Sheerin, Hazel Sultzbaugh, Donna Smith, Bonnie Sheerin, and Henrietta Hocter. The committee decided to call the event the Corn Festival because the crop was prevalent in the area. The committee started with only a fifty dollar donation from Springfield-Clark Landmark, and they made their first money by selling vendor spaces at the festival. This earned them enough money to put on festival number one.
The first Corn Festival was much smaller than it is today. Food alley was on Main Street (where it is today) and there were a few food vendors. A queen pageant was held, nd the first Corn Festival queen was Terri Corns. There was only one tent at the first festival and it was used to hold a talent show and other contests. There was also a small ride company who set up a few rides.
From its humble beginnings the Corn Festival has grown by leaps and bounds. Today the festival plays host to a crowd of 80,000 to 100,000 people per week-end. About 1,500 people a week-end watch local bands perform in the entertainment tent. There are about one hundred crafr vendors who attend the festival every year, and 25 to 30 food vendors provide the festival with a variety of foods. The queen pageant is still held every year, and it is the opening event of every festival. There are still the rides, games, and contests to make the festival fun for the kids, and the parade still attracts a large number of entrants every year. The Corn Festival is definitely the event that brings the most people and publicity to the area each year, and it is a source of pride for the citizens of the Village of South Vienna.
The Corn Festival Committee does more for the community than just put on the festival each year. The committee makes annual donations to The Harmony Township Fire Department, The South Vienna Police Department, The Village of South Vienna, The United Church of South Vienna, and many other charities and organizations. The committee also adopts needy families in the South Vienna area every year at Christmas, and purchases gifts and groceries for them.
TERRY CORNS, FIRST CORN FESTIVAL QUEEN