Sweet Corn Festival - History
The first annual Sweet Corn Festival was held on August 29 and 30 in 1953. It is the oldest sweet corn festival in Wisconsin. The 1953 and 1954 festival grounds extended along the two blocks of Angell Street, just north of Main Street. The 1953 festival served 13,000 ears of corn and two hundred pounds of butter to 6,000 people on Saturday, August 29.
The first corn festivals set the format for future festivals. Future events, included the corn eating contest, music, and local talent shows. Each festival ended with fireworks on Sunday evening. Later festival additions included the festival parade, the Corn Boiler Run, and the extension of the festival to four days.
The festival moved to Angell Park's more spacious grounds in 1955, the third year of the festival. The 1957 corn festival committee assignments included eight committees: dance, corn, butter, queen, concessions, corn sales, rides, and advertising. Bingo in the Angell Park pavilion was added to the roster of events in 1973.
The festival is the major event of the year in Sun Prairie. A corn building staffed by volunteers remains the center of the festival. Local service clubs and organizations use the festival to gain operating funds for their community projects.
In 1997, Stokely USA, expanded their facilities. Stokely had cooked the corn for the festival for years so the festival had the challenge of finding a new location to steam over 70 tons of sweet corn. The solution came in constructing a new "community owned" corn cooking building with the help of local businesses and residents interested in taking "stalk" in the Sun Prairie Sweet Corn Festival. The community rallied to protect the future of the time-honored tradition that the festival has become. The new corn steaming facility was completed in 1997.
Today, approximately 100,000 people attend the four day Sweet Corn Festival on the 3rd full weekend of August. Nine local organizations still use the festival as one of their major fundraisers during the year and utilize hundreds of volunteers to staff the fest. On Saturday and Sunday nearly 80 ton of sweet corn are served on the grounds. The corn and the carnival continue to be the major attractions on the grounds. In addition, there are a wide variety of family activities, stage shows, musical entertainment, mini-golf, a craft show, specialty attractions, and a parade on Thursday night.