Cornpicker reunion returns

Old-fashioned event back after a year’s hiatus

WALNUT – There are 50 reasons why Kevin Larkey thinks people should come to Walnut this weekend. That’s the number of corn pickers expected to be harvesting several dozen acres of corn during Walnut’s Cornpicker Reunion 2012.

The Reunion runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday on the John and Judy Bolz farm on the northeast edge of Walnut. 

This is the third time Larkey has put on the event. He had it in 2009 and 2010, and then shifted to an every-other-year schedule. 

“It’s just [bringing] back something to the town,” Larkey said. “Plus for me … it’s just fun.”

Corn picking is an old-fashioned harvesting method. A tractor drives through the field with an implement attached at the front that picks, husks and deposits the corn into a wagon pulled behind the tractor.

Larkey, who starting driving tractors at age 5, grew up around his grandfather’s corn pickers and other old farming equipment. He started collecting them later in life, amassing as many as 18. He now has 11.

People as far away as Kansas will bring their pickers for the corn harvesting demonstrations, Larkey said.

“We’re going to … pick it, and then we’ll have three or four shellers set up,” he said. “Then we’ll shell it and put it right into a bin.”

This year combines Larkey’s efforts with a show previously held in Sycamore, so Larkey said he expects a bigger crowd. Spectators will be brought out to the field in haulers to watch the harvest in action.

Up to 26 pickers patrolled the rows of the Bolz farm at one time in 2010, and work may be divided into shifts this year. 

“A show like this is an active show,” Larkey said. “Things are happening all the time.”

There also will be eight to 10 acres of beans to combine and several farm animals for children to enjoy. 

Interested in doing more than just observing? Larkey still needs volunteers for tasks that range from hauling and shelling corn to directing traffic. 

High Yield Productions will film both aerial and ground-level footage for a DVD set to be released later.

A $5 donation covers admission for both days for ages 13 and older. Proceeds will offset the cost of the show, and the remainder will be donated back to the community.

The Walnut Rotary will provide breakfast and lunch both days. A rain date is set for the following weekend.

To get to the Bolz farm, turn north onto Rodney Avenue from state Route 92 in Walnut and follow all the way down the gravel lane to parking. 

For more information or to volunteer, call Larkey at 815-878-2524.