Corn Fest: new weekend, classic location

Josiah Webster of Sycamore enjoys an ear of fresh sweet corn during the Chuck Siebrasse Corn Boil at Corn Fest at DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport in DeKalb, Ill. on Saturday, August 25, 2012.
Josiah Webster of Sycamore enjoys an ear of fresh sweet corn during the Chuck Siebrasse Corn Boil at Corn Fest at DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport in DeKalb, Ill. on Saturday, August 25, 2012.

DeKALB – Following a five-year stint at DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport during construction downtown, Corn Fest is returning to its original home in downtown DeKalb.

“The revitalization had been finished so we talked to the city and they said it was OK as long as it wasn’t (Northern Illinois University’s) move-in weekend,” said Lisa Angel, chairwoman of the Corn Fest committee. Angel is an employee of Shaw Suburban Media, which publishes the MidWeek.

NIU’s official move-in day was last Thursday, and Corn Fest will be held this year on Labor Day weekend, Friday, Aug. 30 through Sunday, Sept. 1. In the past, Corn Fest had avoided Labor Day weekend to keep from competing with Rockford’s On the Waterfront festival. On the Waterfront has ceased to operate, opening up the holiday weekend for Corn Fest.

Corn Fest has traditionally been the weekend after move-in day. The new location and date are among the many changes Corn Fest regulars may notice this year. Corn Fest has been a fixture in DeKalb since 1977, and remains one of the few remaining free music festivals in Illinois. The three-day event attracts more than 100,000 people each year.

DeKalb mayor John Rey welcomes Corn Fest’s return to the downtown area. He said he is amazed by the number of people who have told him they didn’t attend the festival when it moved to the airport.

“I do plan to enjoy the Corn Fest experience returning to downtown,” said Rey, who has worked at the DeKalb Kiwanis Club booth selling roasted sweet corn and root beer floats for decades. “I’m looking forward to the activities from local nonprofits and local vendors presenting their products.”

City crews will begin to close the streets at 3 p.m. on Thursday. O’Leary’s Restaurant and Pub and several other downtown businesses will host the inaugural Corn Fest Cup, a miniature golf tournament in downtown DeKalb, shortly after the streets close. All proceeds from the Corn Fest Cup will benefit Corn Fest.

Organizers expect to serve between 24,000 and 30,000 free ears of sweet corn on Saturday during the Chuck Siebrasse Memorial Corn Boil. The Del Monte corn is picked the day before and driven from Mendota to DeKalb by a truck driving instructor from Kishwaukee College.

Twelve local and regional bands will perform on the sound stage at the corner of Locust and Second streets over the three-day weekend, with headliner Josh Thompson concluding Corn Fest with a country music performance beginning at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Corn Fest ends at 6 p.m. Sunday. Since Labor Day is on the following Monday, many downtown businesses will have specials and live music into the evening.

Street and parking lot closures begin Thursday

DeKALB – The city-owned parking lots of Glidden, Ellwood and Haish, between Oak and Locust streets off Second and Third streets, will host the carnival. Those lots are closed until Sept. 2.


More roads will be closed at 3 p.m. Aug. 29:


• Route 38 between First and Fourth streets.

• Second Street between the railroad tracks and Oak Street.

• Third Street between the railroad tracks and Oak Street, except for traffic associated with First State Bank. Bank traffic will exit on Third Street and then take Locust Street to Fourth Street.

• The city's Embrey parking lot, behind the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce. A limited number of parking spaces will remain open for customers at Chesapeake Bagel Bakery, 112 S. First St.

Lincoln Highway will reopen at 9 p.m. Sept. 1.


The city lots at Fourth and Grove streets and Second and Grove streets will remain open. Street parking will be available on Locust Street east of Fourth Street


What's new at Corn Fest?



Corn Fest returns to downtown DeKalb, with the corn boil from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday at Fourth Street and Lincoln Highway and the sound stage at Locust and North Second streets.



Corn Fest will now be held the week after NIU's move-in day. Some years, like this year, it will fall on Labor Day weekend, but that will not always be the case.


Carnival location

The carnival rides will be in the parking lot between North Second and North Third streets, north of Locust Street.


Paid parking

Paid parking will be available in the parking lot by the former Mike Mooney dealership at North Fourth and Locust streets, and at the former DeKalb Clinic annex on Grove Street between South Second and South Third streets.


Autofest location

The Autofest car show, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, will be held in the parking lot of the former Mike Mooney dealership, at North Fourth and Locust streets.


Corn Fest soundstage

Previously known as the beer garden, the soundstage area near the stage will have a more family-friendly feel. Admission is $5 for everyone. Children younger than 12 must be accompanied by a parent.


Bags tournament

Last year's bags tournament was rained out, so weather permitting, this will be the first year of the tournament. The tournament will be on Saturday at the Corn Fest soundstage. Sign-in begins at 11 a.m. and the bags fly at noon.


Veterans Administration mobile unit

The VA's 38-foot mobile unit, complete with two private consultation rooms, will be parked downtown near the corn boil from 11 a.m. until dark on Saturday. VA personnel will provide free medical screenings to veterans, answer eligibility questions, and enroll veterans in VA health care services. Veterans should bring their DD-214 forms if possible.


Corn Fest Cup

O'Leary's Restaurant and Pub and several other downtown businesses are sponsoring a nine-hole miniature golf tournament in downtown DeKalb after the streets are closed off on Thursday, Aug. 29. All proceeds benefit Corn Fest. For more information, visit


Kiwanis offer parking at rummage sale


DeKALB – Kishwaukee Kiwanis will offer $5 parking during Corn Fest and will host its annual rummage sale at the same time.


Parking will be offered at 204 N. Fourth St. in DeKalb, the former Mike Mooney car dealership, from 3 to 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31 and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 1.


The rummage sale will be at the same location from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31. Anyone who wants to donate items for the sale can drop them off between 3 and 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30.


Proceeds from both the parking fundraiser and the rummage sale will support Kiwanis projects throughout the community. The Kiwanis maintain the Kishwaukee Kiwanis Pathway and in the past have provided scholarships to DeKalb High School students and supported such local organizations as Children's Learning Center, Safe Passage and the Salvation Army.


For more information, visit


Feed'em Soup serving all weekend


DeKALB – The kitchen at Feed'em Soup will be open for extended hours during Corn Fest weekend.

The kitchen at 122 S. First St. in DeKalb is typically open from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday for its After Dark event, selling sliders, tapas and breakfast foods to help fund its weekly free dinner. It will keep those hours on Thursday, Aug. 29, but will open at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30 and 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 31. It will also have special Sunday hours from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 1.

There will also be an open house for Lexi's Corner, Feed'em Soup's children's program, featuring free games and children's activities and free banana ice cream, while supplies last.

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