The Olathe Sweet Corn Festival Committee is targeting Aug. 3 for the festival date, according to its chairman, Todd Queen.
“We’re just getting things started at this point, there is a lot to do and I think we’ll have a lot in place to get something going for this year,” Queen, an Olathe businessman and owner of Bollinger & Queen, said Tuesday afternoon.
Early last month town officials voted to mothball the festival, saying the decision was “absolutely financial.” The town of Olathe provides sole financing for the festival, and in recent years debated continuing the celebration due to rising costs and lack of profit during the economic downturn.
Queen said the Montrose Community Foundation is helping the new eightt-member committee organize the festival by raising donations to help host the event in Corn Park, just south of town.
“I’m convinced there is going to be a festival, no doubt about it. I don’t think raising money is going to be a problem,” said farmer John Harold of Tuxedo Corn Company, who annually donates corn for the festival.
Harold said this year he is planning to donate 50,000 to 60,000 ears of corn to the festival.
Queen said the festival’s organizing committee is planning to make the event “low key” this time around, in terms of expenditures and returning the festival to its roots as a celebration of the area’s farming history, rather than drawing huge rock stars to play the festival, with its larger costs.
“We want to show this as getting back to our roots, you know, farming. That’s what this place is founded on and what our principles stand for,” Queen said.
Queen said local merchants and business owners have begun to donate time and other resources to the festival, going on to describe the community-wide effort to preserve this part of Olathe’s heritage as “impressive.”
Town officials have already offered Corn Park for this year free of charge, excluding costs for damages and for the use of any town equipment or personnel for the event.
Donations for parking, garbage dumpsters, and volunteer staffing have already been submitted, and offers from local bands have been taken as well.
In 2011 the festival experienced an increase in long-distance attendance, with some festivalgoers coming from as far away as North Carolina, Florida and Oregon. During the same year Parade magazine listed the Olathe Sweet Corn Festival as the 17th best food festival in America in its “Eat your way across America: 50 states, 50 fabulous food festivals.”
An estimated 70,000 ears of corn, 500 pounds of butter and 300 pounds of salt were devoured during the height of the two-day festival.
Harold said the goal is to host 3-5,000 attendees this year, on just one day, with a ticket price of around $5.
Harold said Tuxedo Corn Company is about two weeks away from harvesting the first ears of the company’s 2013 corn crop.
He said Tuxedo Corn is expected to deliver 625 loads, or about 24 million ears, to markets ranging from Virginia to Alaska and across the Rocky Mountain Region.
“It seems to me that our reputation is such that all they want is corn,” Harold said.
Queen said the festival’s original website and social media portals will be resurrected soon to begin promoting the celebration. The festival can be found at: olathesweetcornfest.com.