NORTH RIDGEVILLE — You can’t live in North Ridgeville and not go to the Corn Festival, at least according to Hannah Krise.
And others would agree, as thousands descended on the second day of the 44th annual Corn Festival for food, games, rides — and, of course, corn — despite the changes to this year’s event.
Hannah, her sister Rachel, and her mother, Jill Krise, all of North Ridgeville, have made the festival a family tradition, coming for close to 15 years.
“It’s not the same as usual, but that’s only because of all the rain, so it’s still good,” Jill Krise said.
Others, like Earl Grabaugh, of Cleveland, are hoping to make it a family tradition. While he’s been coming for about as long as the Krise family, this is only his daughter, Bella’s, second year enjoying the festivities. Bella, 8, took advantage of the Goddard School’s “Early Engineer” tent to build a house out of gum drops and toothpicks.
“(We) look forward to it every year,” Grabaugh said. “It’s just the right size — not too crowded, nice event, nice people, it’s a good community.”
Doug Coleman, originally from Lorain County, was visiting family for the summer from Fort Myers, Fla. Another longtime festival-goer, he came Saturday with his daughter, Kelly Kozar, of Avon Lake, and granddaughters Ashley, 3, and Aubrey, 8. While they were a little disappointed at the lack of adult rides this year, Ashley and Aubrey still enjoyed their Dippin’ Dots ice cream and the kiddie rides.
“It’s something to do — any carnival, festival, we usually go to,” Coleman said. “I brought my daughter this time, but (I) usually bring the wife. We usually come and it’s just something to do, get outside, fresh air, try to hit all the festivals. … Lorain County has an abundance of little carnivals and festivals all the time — lots of fun, good things.”
Besides the booths and vendors, Saturday’s events included a car show and horseshoe tournament, along with the popular corn-eating contest, sponsored by Lauren Wanosky Family Dentistry. This year’s competition featured the usual heats for youth younger than 5, juniors ages 6 to 12, teens, and adults 18 and older, with more than 30 people participating in the event. While 7th District Congressional candidate Ken Harbaugh made an attempt at the adult heat, he couldn’t defeat three-time champion John Pack Sr., who took home the corn-shaped trophy along with his son, John Pack Jr., who won the teen round.
The father and son said taking home the awards together was “awesome.”
Proceeds from the contest’s $5 entry fee benefit Community Care, which provides assistance to the city’s less fortunate, including a food pantry and school supplies.
New this year was a cornbread contest, hosted by the North Ridgeville Early Childhood PTA. While the event was small, with only four participants vying for the top prize, former PTA president Sarah Monahan said the event was an important way to get the organization’s name out. According to Monahan, Jessica and Autumn Smith, of Amherst, won the competition with a bacon cheddar cornbread.
Returning to a full-size booth after a long absence was the city’s Historical Society, hoping to grow its membership as its historians age, according to treasurer Bill Noll. As the city changes — including losing historical sites like Buescher’s Hardware and the middle school — the society’s job becomes increasingly important, he said.
Committee member Bernadine Butkowski said the weekend looked bright, even with the recent rain causing last-minute changes to rides and parking, and the lack of a parade due to construction.
“The sun is out and everybody’s coming in and buying all their food, and it’s supposed to be a wonderful day today and hopefully (Sunday),” she said. “We haven’t run out of corn yet, so it looks like it’s going to be a fabulous day.”
While many of Saturday’s attendees were old hats at the event, there were some first-timers in the crowd. Layne Mabe, of Columbia Station, was swamped at work at the Dunkin’ Donuts on Lorain Road because of it, so she and a co-worker stopped by to see what the fuss was about.
Mabe said she wasn’t disappointed.
“There’s a lot of different types of things, and I don’t think I was expecting there to be so much going on,” she said. “When I think of North Ridgeville Corn Fest, I was thinking more of like, there was going to be a couple of things here and there, lemonade and french fries, but that would be about it. But there’s a lot going on. … It’s just really cool.”
She said she plans to bring her girlfriend to the festival next year, and may become one of the event’s many loyal attendees as time goes on.
The festival finishes up noon to 6 p.m. today on Bainbridge Road between state Route 83 and Root Road. Parking this year is at the North Ridgeville Academic Center, 34620 Bainbridge Rd., with shuttle buses running to the senior center. For more information, including a schedule of events, visit nrcornfest.org.