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Annual Corn Fest set to pop

Weekend’s activities kick off today in downtown DeKalb

DeKALB – Mark Canaday has been overwhelmed by the support his family has received from the community, but he had no idea it would amount to recognition during Corn Fest weekend.

Canaday has been battling esophageal cancer, while his son, Christopher, was born with pulmonary atresia and has had 33 surgeries in his 13 years. The family deals with many medical expenses and related costs, and with two other children, things can be tough for Mark and his wife, Amy.

“Going to and from medical procedures, it’s constant,” Mark Canaday said. “It’s not uncommon for us to go in and out of Chicago two or three times per month or more for procedures.”

Corn Fest organizers chose the Canaday family as a beneficiary their first Northern Illinois University football jersey auction, an effort to raise money by selling Corn Fest-themed jerseys such as those worn by the Huskies during their season-opening football victory over Presbyterian on Thursday night.

The auction was a way to help the community while showcasing town-gown relations, said chairwoman Lisa Angel. The 3-day Corn Fest opens today in downtown DeKalb, with hours of 3 to 11 p.m. today, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

The auction, which is open online now through 10 p.m. Sept. 5, also will benefit local Boy Scout Troop 33 and Voluntary Action Center.

Chad McNett, committee chairman for Boy Scout Troop 33, said the group was surprised when they were selected by festival organizers to receive funds from the auction.

“It was kind of a mix, we were happy but very surprised,” McNett said. “Comparing ourselves to the other beneficiaries, we don’t even feel like we’re worthy.”

However, the troop uses its funds to help others. In the past, the troop has traveled to help in disaster sites including New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy, and Oklahoma and Washington, Illinois, to provide relief after tornadoes.

“These kids love doing it,” McNett said. “Sometimes it surprises us how much they love to help. The kids bust their butts all year doing fundraisers to fund projects to help others, and this is money they can spend to keep helping others.”

Voluntary Action Center was founded 40 years ago on the principle of helping others, and it will use its portion of the auction proceeds to continue services in the community, such as serving meals and providing rides to those who need them, including rides to and from Corn Fest this weekend for seniors and people with disabilities.

“We’re a grassroots agency that begins with support from the community,” said VAC executive director Tom Zucker. “We were thrilled to learn we were picked to be one of the beneficiaries of this. It’ll help a lot.”

This will be the second year Corn Fest has been downtown after its 5-year stint at DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport. Prior to that, the festival was held downtown annually for 30 years.

Organizers are hoping for better weather this year. Last year, the festival’s opening night saw a torrential downpour, Angel said. However, she was pleased many people stuck it out by waiting in nearby bars and restaurants until the rain let up.

“Nobody went home during the rain,” Angel said. “People wanted to be at the festival anyway. That’s what it’s all about.”

Events this year include a weekend full of music performances, both on the main sound stage at the Second and Locust streets, and the community sound stage on Lincoln Highway.

The bike rally will be Sunday at Lions Park, and the vintage car show will be held Saturday at city hall, near Fourth and Grove streets. The free corn boil will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, or until corn runs out.

“Where else can you eat free sweet corn, hear free music and go home without spending a penny?” Angel said.


• Vintage auto show Autofest, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, City Hall

• Historical bus tours by historian Steve Bigolin, 10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, corner of Grove and Fourth streets

• Chuck Siebrasse Corn Boil, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Fourth Street and Lincoln Highway

• Cornhole bags tournament, 11 a.m. Saturday, soundstage area

Carnival hours

3 to 11 p.m. today

11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday

11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

Beer garden hours

5 to 11:30 p.m. today 

Noon to 11:30 p.m. Saturday

Noon to 6 p.m. Sunday

More information

For more information and a full list of events, call 815-748-CORN or visit

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