Sunday, August 01, 1999

Corn festival harkens to simpler times

Enquirer Contributor

        ROSS — Amid a stack of yellow bags filled with Butler County corn, Jessica and Jamie Heheman repackaged the ears for sale — a dozen at a time.

        The sisters, members of Future Career Community Leaders of America, were doing their stint Saturday in a corn booth at the Silver Queen Corn Festival for a donation to their group.

        This is their third year working at the festival, but their first selling corn. They used to work the soda booth, and are much happier now.

        “The pop is all sticky and it gets really crowded,” said Jessica, 16. “They complain about the pop.”

        In a booth next door, a local bank offered popcorn, and across the field at Ross High School, ears of corn were roasted the old-fashioned way — in the husk.

        “I look forward to the Silver Queen corn,” said Mabel Reiff, a 25-year Ross resident. “It's a community thing, something you look forward to. The merchants seem to put out a lot of effort.”

        With the baby contest over, everybody was getting ready for the corn-eating contest. Other events included a noon parade through Ross and a run/walk Saturday morning.

        But the festival, sponsored by the Ross Merchants Association and now in its 11th year, highlights the corn, a staple in rural Butler County.

        Most of the nearly three dozen game, food and information booths are run by local businesses and non-profit groups.

        The festival usually raises between $5,000 and $7,000 for the merchants' association, scholarships and other activities.

        “We just try to do things around the community,” said Cindy Queen, the association's treasurer. “We're try ing to explain the Ross community and the different aspects of Ross that are available. Everything is pretty much local.”

        About the only thing that's not are the classic car owners who came from all over the region.

        About 100 cars — from a 1938 business coupe originally sold in Hamilton, to a late-model customized pickup — lined the fields around the high school for judging.

        Dusty Miller of Fairfield watched officials inspect his shiny black 1965 Mustang. “I've always wanted one,” he said. “I just wanted to make it the way I wanted it.”


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