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By Pam Reinig

Register Editor


When the sun sets next Sunday on the final event of Sweet Corn Days, members of the planning committee will breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they’ve done their best to make Elkader’s annual festival a memorable event.

And then these tireless volunteers will turn over their notes, contracts and collective wisdom to a new group of planners—assuming someone steps forward to take up the cause.

All four members of the Sweet Corn Days Committee—Melissa Bonnette, Jim Hoth, Holly Purman and Tonia Robinson—are stepping down. The decision was difficult to make but the group agreed it was time to bring new ideas to the table.

“We’ve debated this for a while but have decided it’s time,” said Bonnette. “We’ve all enjoyed the ride but our lives are changing so much that we feel it is somebody else’s turn. We will miss all of it but we look forward to seeing what the next group can do.”

Purman and Kari Niewoehner formed the original four-member planning committee in 2006 in an effort to bring more variety to the town’s annual summer festival, which, according to Bonnette, was called Elkader Fest and “consisted of a parade, free sweet corn by the firemen and a potato bar by Main Street.”

Bonnette, Hoth and others joined the group in 2007, bringing the committee to 10 members. By 2011, the group was down to three, Bonnette, Hoth, Purman and Christie Beck, who stepped down in 2011 and was replaced by Robinson.

“I got involved because here was this young group of adults trying to restore the event to what I remembered it being when I was a child,” Bonnette said. “When I was a kid, my family would plan our whole summer around Sweet Corn Days and the amazing events the Jaycees had planned. I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of and I wanted to give back to my amazing hometown.”

Working on Sweet Corn Days is a serious commitment though the total number of hours required by the effort is not as high as some might think. The current group follows a well-developed, time-tested blueprint that begins with securing vendors for the next year during the current year’s event. Music for Friday and Saturday nights is booked as soon as possible, usually within two or three months of the most recent festival.

“In March of the next year we put together our list of businesses to contact for donations and we divide up the list between us,” explained Bonnette. “We usually try to have all of the donations done by May so that we can start working on our advertising. The businesses for Elkader have been amazing supporters of our committee and event. This truly couldn’t happen without their support.”

Bonnette added that the collective investment of the group is about 100 hours—and event second of that is validated by the response of festival goers.

“The joy it brings to town and the people it brings home, especially those who no longer live here, is awesome,” said Bonnette. “There is nothing better than a weekend event that runs smoothly, while creating memories for families and friends. Elkader is an amazing place to live and play, and we love having the ability to show it off.”

In the eight years this group has worked together, the festival has changed in significant ways. The parade, street dances, kiddie tractor pulls, amusement rides, donut hole-eating contests, games and fireworks have all been added. Even the planning committee members are surprised at the event’s growth.

“This is an amazing event for the town and we would hate to see it end,” Bonnette said. “I guarantee (future committee members) that you will have a great time, and it is so rewarding in the end. We have developed so many great contacts that we are willing to pass on that you will have no problem assuming the roles of the committee.”

Anyone interested in serving on the Sweet Corn Committee can contact Holly Purman at 245-1555.


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