Sunday, August 01, 2004
Children of the Corn

Posted by Hello

Today, we participated in a time-honored Midwestern tradition. It was a pilgrimage, really. All summer, I've been on the search, looking high and low, for that uniquely midwestern summer staple. A sweet, farm-fresh ear of corn. I've picked up a few ears at the local Shnucks, sampled ears at family barbecue, stopped at roadside stands, and visited the local soul food cafe on the hunt for a tasty, wholesome, soul-satisfying bite of corn on the cob. But so far this year, it was all for not.

Until today. August 1 is the date of the annual Minier Corn Daze, a small town festival that features sweet summer corn on the cob--and they serve it for free.

According to The Pantagraph, "Corn Daze festival workers will cook and serve between 5,000 and 6,000 ears of free sweet corn during the festival at Minier Park on Aug. 1." Free corn, served in a small park right next to an actual corn field. Could the corn on the cob be any sweeter? Could it be any more farm-fresh? Could it be served saturated in any more butter? I think not.

Minier Corn Daze had more to offer than just corn. Our fine festival food menu included:

Nothing like country cooking! The fair also featured some festival fixings I'd never exeprienced before. The most enticing was a dish called the Walking Taco. Apparently, to make this portable entree, the chef begins with a hand-selected bag of corn chips. The bag is carefully sliced open, and a dollop of spicy chili is nestled onto the chips. To top off the Walking Taco, lettuce, cheese, onions, and cheese are stuffed into the bag. Thus you have a messy--but portable--Corn Daze treat.

After the feast, we explored the festival booths. The fair seemed to be doing brisk trade in scented candles, rag rugs, beanie babies, wind chimes, and used books. One gentleman was selling air guns made out of PVC pipe. He'd load in a mini-marshmellow, aim, and fire off a round towards his sleeping dog, who promptly woke up and ate the ammunition. The guy said, "The only reason that I shoot at the dog is because my kids aren't here." For three dollars, I really wanted one. I could imagine waking up Randy each morning with a mini-mellow to the forehead. What a way to start the day! But Randy, the voice of reason, lead me away from the fair booths towards the car show before I lost all fiscal control.

I've never been much of a car buff. My car is small, cute, and paid for--that's enough for me. But I know something about getting complete wrapped up in a hobby. Obsession is a thing I can understand, and it appeared a trait I share with the car owners. The cars at the show were amazing. Leather interiors color-coordinated with the custom, flame paint job. Chrome polished bright enough to blind passers-by. Engines so clean, the name "engine" just doens't seem adequate. I can imagine the owner of each one of those babies lavishing their cars with pampered specially-formulated car washes, weekly hand waxes, and money, money, money. One owner of an orange Mustang positioned mirrors all around the edge of his car so we could see the chrome detailing underneath the vehicle. Now that's obsession.

Here it is, the end of the day. The Minier Corn Daze is behind us for another year, but I can't get this song out of my head. I keep hearing it over and over and over again. You know what song I'm talking about. Ready, everyone, all together now:

There's a bright golden haze on the meadow
There's a bright golden haze on the meadow,
The corn is as high as an elephant's eye,
An' it looks like it's climbin' clear up to the sky.

Oh, what a beautiful mornin',
Oh, what a beautiful day.
I got a beautiful feelin'
Ev'rything's goin' my way.


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