Thousands pack Crown Point square for annual Corn Roast festival
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent June 15, 2012 10:10PM
Rich Wright, of Crown Point, dumps a crate of corn into a boiler during the annual Corn Roast, on Friday, June 15, 2012, in Crown Point. | Scott R. Brandush~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 17, 2012 12:42PM
CROWN POINT — Festival season was in full swing Friday night as thousands descended on the historic Courthouse Square for the annual Corn Roast celebration.
The Corn Roast, sponsored by the Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce, was expanded in both size and duration to accommodate the crowds that come to the event that is the kick-off of the annual weeklong Festival Days celebration.
Richard Wright, head of the actual corn roasting by the South Lake County Shrine Club, said they had gone through more than 3,000 ears of corn by 8 p.m. Friday with two hours still left to go.
“We’re falling behind on the cooking. We can’t keep up,” Wright said. Volunteers were shucking and cooking corn as fast as they could to meet the demand of the unending line of hungry festivalgoers.
Club member Grant Hagberg III said he, too, was surprised by the sheer number of people who came out Friday night. He was directing traffic to the Shrine corn roast booth with an ear of corn.
“I thought it would be a little less busy tonight and more spread out over the two days,” he said, adding that was not the case. Weather this year was much nicer than last, when heavy off-and-on rain doused those who attended.
The event is growing in popularity and attracting more first-time visitors, including Daniel and Melissa Alfaro of Hobart. They both had an ear of corn in each hand and were snacking off to the side out of the flow of foot traffic.
Melissa said she heard about the festival through the grapevine and they decided to check it out Friday night because she is working Sunday.
“It’s crazy here,” Daniel said. “It’s really crowded.”
Along with corn, festivalgoers had the chance to try a variety of foods from local restaurants and fair vendors, visit Crown Brewery’s beer garden, listen to live entertainment and take advantage of an expanded children’s area with a giant castle bounce house.
Four-year-old Brian Fentress of Crown Point was eyeing the bounce house castle as he made his way through an ear of corn. His mother, Kate Fentress, and sister Emma, 1, were also enjoying an ear.
“I want to play on the castle,” Brian said, as he tried to show his mom he had finished his treat. This is the first time the family ventured out to the corn roast, though they have attended other events on the square including the Taste of Crown Point.
“I’ve never seen this many people on the square,” Kate Fentress said.