Sweet Corn Days returns with ‘small town, summer fun’ July 22-25

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There will be “small town, summer fun” again, as Sweet Corn Days makes its long awaited return to Elkader from July 22-25. The committee has been busy planning a full lineup of activities and entertainment. Pictured (front, left to right) are committee members Nicole Gray, Allison Burkle, Mackenzie Gamm, Heath Houg; (back) Jenna Wemark, Caleb Shea, Danielle Shea, Courtney Scherf and Jason Scherf.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


There will be “small town, summer fun” again, as Sweet Corn Days (SCD) makes its long awaited return to Elkader from July 22-25, with a full lineup of activities and entertainment. 


While last year’s cancellation hung heavy over the SCD committee, they are optimistic about this year’s event. Committee member Danielle Shea, focused on the future, and any concerns were quickly alleviated as the city council overwhelmingly supported the festival. With that concern over, the next was what would SCD even look like.


In a typical year, SCD planning starts the previous September, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic and approval timelines, the committee didn’t fully get started until the end of April. They were going to have to cram 10 months of work—gathering vendors, setting up events and finding entertainment—into a condensed two-month window. 


The biggest challenge, according to Shea, was booking musical acts, which have become in-demand since everything reopened. 


Through hard work and diligence, the committee was able to find four separate acts, including Iowa native and country singer and songwriter Aaron Smith and high energy country music act Lonesome Road. The Rush Cleveland Trio, known for playing blues, classic country and rockabilly with almost hypnotizing electronic guitar solos, will perform, as will a country rock band hailing from Cedar Rapids, Boot Jack Band. 


When it comes to the other events, Shea stated, “Not a single event will be cut or missed due to the condensed planning timeframe.” 


Some of those events include the Elkader Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament, carnival, Shed Your Threads 5K/10K walk/run and kids fun run, softball tournament, moonlight swim, bean bag tournament and, of course, fireworks. Find a full list of events on page 8, or visit www.elkadersweetcorndays.net. 


The result is a combination of countless hours, passion and dedication by a committed group of volunteers and support from the community.


“We have a rock star committee, and this constrained timeline, while creating a lot of hard work in a short amount of time, has not been an issue at all. Planning is right on track now and we can’t wait for everyone to come down to Founders’ Park and be a part of the ‘small town, summer fun’ we have planned for everyone,” Shea said. 


While planning the event is always a challenge regardless of timelines, so is paying for it. This is something Shea is consciously aware of, because sound financial decisions don’t just provide the community with the best event possible. It also ensures the longevity of the event, always leaving the coffers with something left over for the following year. Based on the response from businesses and the community, the future looks bright for Sweet Corn Days. 


“Our businesses and community members have been more generous than ever this year. We feel this generosity translates into how ready and excited the community is for SCD 2021,” Shea said. 


That support wasn’t guaranteed, and it was something the committee knew they would need to focus on because, without it, there is no event. But according to Shea, the “countless hours” spent developing the event have paid off, as evidenced by the amount of financial support, positive feedback on social media platforms and the number of volunteers, which Shea claims is at an all-time high. 


“We are proud to continue the tradition of SCD. We have done this by creating the ultimate experience with feel good vibes and a lively atmosphere, making Elkader the place to be this weekend. It is incredibly important to us that vendors, performers, event coordinators, volunteers and festival-goers experience a smooth and fun filled weekend without any hiccups,” Shea said. 


When it comes to who to thank for the event, the list is long, but the collective effort, according to Shea, wouldn’t be possible without the following groups: Elkader city hall employees and city maintenance staff, the Elkader Police Department, Elkader Emergency Services and Elkader Fire Department, as well as many volunteers who gave up their time. 


“We have had more volunteers than ever reach out to help during the planning stage that starts months before the actual festival. Our vendors, performers and event coordinators are ecstatic to be a part of SCD 2021,” Shea said. “Our committee couldn’t be more excited to see our community, businesses, family and friends come together as we are all ready to celebrate this year. We have continued to focus on creating ‘small town, summer fun,’ and anyone who spends time in Elkader this weekend will no doubt enjoy their time here, make lasting memories and will want to come back year after year.”

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