Sweet Corn and Summer

What is summer without a parade?

Well, it’s not the same.  Since I’ve yet to find a proper parade here in the UK, when my brother reminded me on our first night back in Illinois that the Mendota Sweet Corn Festival was going on , I dragged the kids there. Never mind that it was hotter than blazes and we were all seriously jet lagged…

…especially when there is cotton candy to provide a much-needed sugar boost!!!

To me, a summer festival in rural Illinois means:


John Deere caps and


…fair food (definitely not Weight Watchers friendly, my friends – and no, I still haven’t tried a deep-fried Twinkie. Or a deep-fried Snickers. And I can pass on the cheddar curds, thankyouverymuch.) Although, everything tastes better deep-fried, including corn dogs.

Did I mention funnel cakes? (although my brother SWEARS by the Greek salad. I may have to disown him.)

And you can’t have a sweet corn festival without sweet corn…(well, we’ll get to that in a minute…)


And did I mention corn dogs? I’ll admit, I had TWO. With a lemon shake-up to wash it down with.

And I’d do it again in a second, Weight Watchers be damned. I’m a long, long way from a corn dog, mah friends. You have to jump on opportunities when they are offered….


Summer festivals also mean carnival rides.

Horribly, painfully expensive carnival rides that are worth every penny to see your speed demon kids screaming with glee.

(Ok, they were, just not in this crappy photo…)


And you can’t miss out on the carousel…


Or the possibly neck-jarring, teeth rattling kids’ rides…


Or the most important part, the parades!

And of course, they start out with noisy, screaming fire engines…


Quite possibly more fire trucks than you’ve ever seen in one place…


(making you hope that a major fire does not break out that afternoon…)
And of course, there will be a long line of vintage tractors to get your tractor-fiend of a son bouncing on the curb, rattling off names and models of tractors like he is the Rain Man… “It’s a 1949 Buick Roadmaster. Straight 8. Fireball 8. Only 8,985 production models. Dad lets me drive slow on the driveway. But not on Monday, definitely not on Monday….


Likewise, no small-town parade is complete without the Shriners….


And more Shriners….


And yet more Shriners!!!


And along with Marching bands and dance troupes – all from urban parts of Chicago – if you’re lucky, you get to watch,  with anxiously gritted teeth – the Jesse White  Tumblers as they perform on the hard asphalt of Main Street…


All, in all, it is a good old-fashioned day. The kids leave hot, sweaty, clutching a bag full of Dum-Dums, bubble gum (which I’ll confiscate) and Tootsie Rolls, all thrown from the passing-by floats, and the grown-ups will likely have an assortment of promotional pens, nail files and possibly beer coozies.

Life is good.

Now, the highlight for me of the Sweet Corn festival should have been the Sweet Corn. And on Sunday, after the parade, Del Monte gave away tons of it, golden, delicious, and dripping with warm butter….

Just not to us.

Because we were tired, and the line was a block long.

Sad, isn’t it?

It all turned out ok. We grabbed a bag of corn as we left town. I joked with my mom that I hoped it wasn’t Del Monte rejected ears.

(We think it was.)

But it still tasted pretty darn good.


  1. It was fun. It was hot. And my bottom had a crease on it from sitting on the curb.

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