50 years of corn-filled fun in Minnesota town
OLIVIA, Minn. -- Olivia is the state-proclaimed Corn Capital of the World, so it only makes sense its annual town festival celebrates that distinction. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Corn Capital Days, which kicked off Monday and runs th...
OLIVIA, Minn. - Olivia is the state-proclaimed Corn Capital of the World, so it only makes sense its annual town festival celebrates that distinction. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Corn Capital Days, which kicked off Monday and runs through Sunday.
While Olivia had a town celebration prior to 1968, Corn Capital Days has become one of the largest town festivals in the region.
"It's always been based around corn. The end goal is celebrating Olivia," said Nancy Mathison, secretary of the Corn Capital Days Committee and chairperson for the Grand Parade and downtown street dance.
This year's event is full of old favorites, as well as new events, all to make this year's celebration something special. The committee has been planning for this year's Corn Capital Days for months. The group knew early on they needed to focus and acknowledge the important anniversary.
"We know it is bigger than all the other years. We needed more then we've done before," Mathison said. A full schedule of events can be found at www.corncapitaldays.com .
The new or updated events include a larger turnout of activities during today's Family Fun Night and Kiddie Carnival, young entrepreneurs selling their wares during Friday's Crazy Days sales, the return of fireworks during the downtown street dance Friday night and the Jon Wogen Memorial Youth Fishing Event on Saturday.
"It is really nice to be able to provide so many activities that people can enjoy," Mathison said.
The Family Fun Night and Kiddie Carnival at Dirks Park, on the northside of town, was added to the Corn Capital Days lineup a few years ago and each year has continued to expand. The evening will include a petting zoo, inflatables, games, tug of war and fire truck tours.
"It's fun to watch the kids," Mathison said.
Friday starts early, with Olivia businesses holding sales for Crazy Days from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Joining them this year will be the HomeTown Bank Future Entrepreneurs, children who will be selling their wares as well. The list of items for sale will include homemade soap, duct tape wallets, lawn service, candles, food, commitment rocks and even a book written by one of the youth.
"It is a great idea. They might be learning something that will carry them through. Maybe they'll be an entrepreneur all their life," Mathison said.
Fireworks will light up the Friday night sky during the street dance, with the Fabulous Armadillos taking the stage at 9 p.m.
"We went big on the street dance. We brought back the fireworks," Mathison said.
The high points for Saturday are sure to be the always popular free sweet corn and bean feed, the Jon Wogen fishing event and the Grand Parade.
"That is always a big draw," Mathison said.
Wogen was a former BOLD Schools science teacher and a well-known naturalist in Olivia, who was always pushing to get kids outside and enjoying nature, especially with a rod and reel. When the city created the large stormwater pond south on U.S. Highway 71, Wogen campaigned to have it stocked with fish. Wogen passed away in 2016.
"It is a nice way to remember him," Mathison said.
This year parade participants will have to opportunity to win awards - Best in the Corn Show and Thru the Ears. The former is for the best parade float, decided on by judges, the latter is for the best vintage style float, to go with the 50th anniversary.
"It is fun. They just have to be in the parade," Mathison said.
Corn Capital Days is one of the highlights of the year in Olivia, bringing the whole community together for a week of fun, family and friends. Children and grandchildren come home for a visit and the city puts its best ear of corn forward to celebrate the town, its people and, of course, the corn.
"They enjoy the community. Everyone in Olivia is just a little more happy spirited," Mathison said.