The 38th annual Clinton County Corn Festival will once again bring alive the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of a bygone era.
A festival for the entire family, the emphasis of this event is the deep-rooted agricultural heritage of the community, and the fun all begins with the blowing of the steam whistle, reminding all within its sound that it’s that special time of year again. There’s something for everyone at this three-day event that will take place Sept. 11-13, 2015. On Saturday, Sept. 11, witness the mile long parade of antique tractors through downtown Wilmington as the Corn Festival Parade gives you a glimpse of the rural flavor of small-town USA. Complete with floats, bands, and community members, “King Corn”, the number one cash crop in Clinton County, is paid special tribute during this hometown parade.
At the festival you can feel the rumble of an 80-plus year old, 200-horsepower diesel engine, or get a close-up look at over 300 antique tractors, other antique power equipment such as windmills, stone crushers, wheat thrashers, and corn shellers, and the list goes on and on. Come for the country cooking, or to browse the displays of antiques, crafts, and demonstrations of life on the farm as it used to be. There’s no lack of musical entertainment either, as the full schedule includes country, gospel, and bluegrass. The festival also features a quilt show, an antique car show and cruise-in and a horse pulling contest. There is even a Corn Olympics on Saturday evening, a hilarious competition set to a special theme. Watch as local corporations and service organizations compete in the Hog Calling Contest, the Outhouse Race, the outrageous Obstacle Course, and more.
The festival hours are Friday, noon to 11 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The cost of admission is $4 per adult; children 12 and under are free. A weekend pass can be purchased for $7.
The Clinton County Corn Festival is put on by the Antique Power Club of Clinton County, Inc., an organization founded on Nov. 25, 1972. The original founders of the club were Warren Murphy, Maynard Harris, Robert Olinger, Donald Haines, and Ralph Eltzroth, with each serving as the original officers under the presidency of Warren Murphy. According to club records, the Corn Festival had its early beginnings in 1973 when the Antique Power Club joined forces with the Clinton County Historical Society for a show to feature the society’s new building. The show then moved to the Clinton County Fairgrounds in 1974 where it grew to include demonstrations of wheat threshing, corn shredding, baling, and sorghum making. In 1976, the event grew to include over 125 antique cars, tractors, steam engines, machinery, small engines, a team of horses, and the Clinton Chief, a horse drawn fire engine owned by the Clinton County Historical Society.
In 1978, the event was officially named the Clinton County Corn Festival and a family friendly format was embraced which added a flea market, antiques, food concessions, crafts, games, and a variety of demonstrations. The festival’s permanent home was established when a structure was built by the club at the local fairgrounds to house a rare 1924 200-horse power Fairbanks Morse engine from the Melvin Stone Company. Loaned to the club in 1984 by the Beam family, the engine was moved in 1985 to the fairgrounds. After much tender loving care, the big engine came to life at the 1987 festival, after many years of neglect, and to the delight of thousands of viewers of all ages. The Luttrell family’s donation of the sawmill in 1990 prompted the erection of a second building on the fairgrounds property, with the first successful log-sawing taking place in 1999. The festival continues to grow year after year, and is considered the biggest and best show of its kind, drawing attendees from many Ohio counties and several states. In keeping with the past, the festival is one of the few shows where steam traction can be seen in use.
Submitted by Debbie Stamper, Clinton County Convention & Visitors Bureau.