A celebration on the cob at Sioux Rapids

Thursday, July 24, 2003

One of the area's long-standing celebrations takes root again Friday and Saturday, with plenty of performers, parade entries, games, dances, swimming - and of course - the Tall Corn contest and the Sweet Corn Feed.

"It's been a tradition around here for - well, it must be at least 50 years," said Don Yungbluth, the local barber and esteemed judge of the Tall Corn Contest.

Some years, stalks stretching as much as 13 feet have been entered, he said. "They don't tell what their secrets are to growing corn that tall by July, but there are usually around eight real good stalks in by contest time.

"I try to encourage the kids to get in the contest, but sometimes, it seems like the old-timers are the easier ones to motivate," he laughed.

You don't have to tell that to Oscar Sundblad, who has been in charge of the parade for years.

At age 90, Sundblad has become a wiz on his computer organizing the event, and has 60-plus entries lined up for this weekend.

In his Norwegian accent, he says, "I sure hope I'll be around for the Sesquicentennial Parade."

That comes up in 2005, and has already been a year in the planning. This year's Tall Corn Days is a bit of a dry run toward that big event to be held at the same time of year, with Oscar at the helm of what should be the city's largest parade ever.

Practically everyone in this small city gets involved in Tall Corn Days.

Mayor Ken Schau's role will be a wet one, the featured attraction in the dunk tank Saturday afternoon.

"It wasn't exactly his choice, but his wife went ahead and volunteered him," an organizer reported.

Highlights of the event:

* Citywide Garage Sales both Friday and Saturday. Maps will be placed at several retail businesses in the community to show the way to all the sales.

* The Tall Corn Contest will take place on Friday morning. All stalks are being taken to Don's Barber Shop for judging. Chamber bucks will be given to the winners.

* Sweet Corn Feed Friday night at the American Legion Community Center 5-7 p.m. Marc Bertness

has ordered well over 700 ears. A special machine brought in from Holstein steams the ears right in the husk, then volunteers peel back the skins and dip them liberally in hot pots of melted butter. "People love that sweet corn," one said.

* At 7:30 p.m. Sioux Central's own "All Strung Out' bluegrass band will perform at the Historical theater on Main Street. This student-teacher combo combines guitar, banjo, fiddle and vocals for a polished country sound. There will be a free will offering taken.

* Saturday morning will bring the community parade at 10:30 a.m. Bring a lawn chair or a blanket for all the fun.

* A picnic lunch that includes turkey fillets, beans and bars will be served following the parade at the American Legion Community Center by the Masons.

* Gingerbread House will have a mini children's carnival Saturday from after the parade until 2 p.m., with new games, a Golf Challenge and dunk tank featuring Daycare Dads. Snacks will be on sale to benefit the daycare center and include nachos, tacos in a bag, slushies, pop, bars, tea and lemonade.

* Saturday night you can dance to the Senders in concert at the American Legion Community Center. The group, an all-time favorite in Iowa with pop and rock classics, will be hosted by the American Legion. The Legion will draw for the winners in their $500 cash drawing during the evening, also.

* If you're warm after all that dancing, you can take in a Midnight Swim at the Sioux Rapids Swimming Pool.

Sioux Rapids Tall Corn Days is a tradition as old as the memory of most long-time residents. After a lapse, the chamber of commerce decided to bring the event back nearly a decade ago.

"It brings the community together, and gets lot of organizations involved, so it's really good for Sioux Rapids," said Ginny Smith, one of the organizers.

In an age of fast-paced, high-tech entertainment, Tall Corn Days is unabashedly down-home and rural in flavor, she notes.

"It has a traditional, country appeal to it, and that seems to work well. We pick local people as parade marshalls, and name a couple of children to be featured as junior ambassadors. We want everyone to have a way to get involved and to have fun. We invite everyone to enjoy a total weekend of fun, food and dance.

But whatever you do - and trust us on this - do not miss that sweet corn.