The Commercial-News, Danville, IL


August 25, 2013

Hoopeston ready for Sweetcorn Festival

HOOPESTON — The 70th Annual National Sweetcorn Festival, scheduled for Thursday through Sept. 2, will host 44 Sweethearts this year, including one contestant from Puerto Rico.

Preliminaries for the National Sweetheart Pageant are scheduled for Friday and Saturday. The final competition and crowning of the National Sweetcorn Sweetheart will be Sunday evening.

All events start at 6:30 p.m.

Gates will open at 5 p.m. Thursday with children’s bracelet night, 5-10 p.m. Bracelets can be purchased as a four-day special Thursday-Sunday for $50.

Gate fees at McFerren Park are $2 each day. Children 5 and younger are free.

Twenty food vendors will tempt the palates of festival-goers during the five-day festival, according to Bradley Hardcastle, co-chair of food and vendors, and about 30 flea market vendors will offer a variety of items for sale.

New this year is a motorcycle show 9 3 p.m. Saturday in the park annex. Motorcyclists participating in the show will pay a $10 registration fee by the announcers booth in the annex. Public attendance is free.

"We decided to have the motorcycle show because the community is full of bikes," said festival chairman Darrin Brewster, "and to raise more money for the underprivileged children’s programs we sponsor. It’s something different."

Different classes of motorcycles from metric to rat rod to full dress will be judged and awarded trophies. Two trophies will be awarded in each class, Brewster said. In addition to trophies, Brewster said there will be a motorcycle rodeo, a keg push and a hotdog biting contest for motorcyclists.

The I&I Antique Tractor show and CBI Blockheads Dog Show also will be in the annex at the same time from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jordan Carswell of CBI Blockheads Dog Show will offer photos of motorcyclists with his dogs.

An added attraction for the Motorcycle Show is a DJ and bands performing in the annex beer tent. Rockin’ Roy DJ will start the day at 9 a.m., followed by Southern Transfer, 4-8 p.m., and Renegade, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

For information about the Motorcycle Show, contact Brewster at (815) 278-4238.

Taylor Wolfe, a local performer, will sing a variety of songs 1:30-2:30 p.m. Saturday near the souvenir shop. Wolfe performed on “The Voice,” at the Blues, Brews and BBQ Fest in Champaign, Hoopeston Old Fashioned Fun 4th of July celebration and at The Mardi Gras Courtyard in Danville last month.

Groove Catz, a jazz-type band, will play 2-3 p.m. Sunday between the souvenir shop and park lagoon.

Old favorites for residents and visitors alike are the demolition derby, which moved to Friday and Sunday nights at 7:30 p.m. in the park annex, and the Custom Car Show display, which remains 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the south end of McFerren Park. The truck pull has been discontinued.

For the youngsters attending the festival, the Petting Zoo and pony rides are scheduled Saturday and Sunday beginning at noon each day. The children’s fishing derby is Sunday at noon and the Cream of the Crop Pretty Baby contest will be Sunday. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and judging at 10 a.m. at the Civic Center.

The Rob Thompson Magic Show can be seen on Saturday, Sunday and Monday afternoons.

Runners and walkers in the area compete in the 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk event, which begins at 7:30 a.m. Saturday at Honeywell School; the Bill Orr Memorial 5K begins at 8 a.m. , with registration and check-in for both from 6:30-7:15 a.m. at Honeywell school. The Little Corn Eaters Run will begin at 8:45 a.m. following the end of the 5K run. Entry fee for the first two events are Fun Run/Walk, $15; 5K $22. Little Corn Eaters Run is free.

For race information, contact Angie Totheroh or Dana Kuntz at 283-6688. Race forms can be downloaded at the Jaycees’ Website:

The beer tent will be open at 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday and Monday. Three bands are scheduled for the beer tent, Black Rose Reception will play on Friday, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Southern Transfer will perform 4-8 p.m. Saturday; and Renegade will play 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday.

Ticket Information for the National Sweetheart Pageant is: reserved seats, $15 Friday-Saturday; $20, Sunday; and a three-night package is $40. For general admission, tickets are $14 Friday-Saturday; $18 Sunday; and a three-night package is $35. Tickets are available at: City of Hoopeston Municipal Building, 301 W. Main St., or call 283-7679 for more information.

Four-day ride passes are $50 (Thursday-Sunday) and can be purchased at various locations throughout the town: IGA, Rod’s Home and Auto, Global Fashions, Henning’s, and The Chronicle.

For vendor information, contact food and vendor chairmen Bradley Hardcastle or Karen Porth at 372-4017 or e-mail:

Festival history

The National Sweetcorn Festival originated in 1941 through an adaptation of the original Hoopeston Sweetcorn Festival. The first festival, in 1938, was organized by city businessmen to promote business in Hoopeston and to celebrate the end of the yearly harvest of sweet corn.

The festival was discontinued during World War II and later reorganized under the sponsorship of the Hoopeston Jaycees, which has continued to the present days’ festival.

The Jaycees followed the same format until invitations were sent in 1952 to the first runners-up from their respective states’ Miss America pageants to compete at Hoopeston. At that same time, judges from the Miss America circuit were invited to judge the pageant. The idea was to bring national recognition to the pageant as well as provide a training pageant for girls who might wish to re-enter their states’ Miss America competition in future years. The same traditions and goals remain a vital part of the National Sweetheart Pageant today.

Eight contestants from the National Sweetheart Pageant have become Miss America: Pam Eldred, Miss America 1970; Rebecca King, Miss America 1974; Grace E. Ward, Miss America 1982; Debrah L. Turner, Miss America 1990; Carolyn Sapp, Miss America 1992; Leanza Cornett, Miss America 1993; Tara Dawn Holland, Miss America 1997; and Katie Marie Harman, Miss America 2002.

Ten former Sweetheart contestants will compete in the Miss America competition this year. They are Miss Arkansas, Amy Crain; Miss Connecticut, Kaitlyn Tarpey; Miss Georgia, Carly Mathis; Miss Kentucky, Jenna Day; Miss Massachusetts, Amanda Narciso; Miss North Dakota, Laura Harmon; Miss Nevada, Diana Sweeney; Miss Virginia, Desire Williams, Miss Washington, Reina Almon and Miss Wyoming, Rebecca Podio.

Baby contest

The fifth annual Cream of the Crop Pretty Baby Contest will take place during the festival on Sept. 2 at the McFerren Park Civic Center. Registration will begin at 9 a.m. with the contest following at 10 a.m. Trophies and ribbons will be awarded in five age categories: 0-6 months, 7-12 months, 13-18 months, 19-24 months and 25-36 months. An overall winner will also be named. Attire is the contestant’s choice.

Entry fee will be $5, with all proceeds going to the Hoopeston Chapter of Blessings in a Backpack, a weekend food program for students that have qualified for the federal free lunch program.

For information, contact Callie Huffman at 497-6043.

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