WILMINGTON — “Family friendly” is often used to describe events.
But for Jonathan McKay, one event truly epitomizes “friends” and “family” — the annual Clinton County Corn Festival.
“My entire life, the McKay Family — since we came to Clinton County — has been involved in agriculture,” said McKay, who serves on the festival committee. “Our family heritage is deeply rooted in antique tractors and agriculture and farming, and this event pays homage to our agricultural heritage.
“It’s just so much fun … you see people and you meet people. Everything’s local — all the food vendors, craft booths, the flea market area. It really pulls the community together. People just enjoy the family-friendly atmosphere in a safe environment.”
“I’ll tell you a story,” he said. “When I was in second grade I broke my arm Labor Day weekend, right before the Corn Festival. Dr. Matrka asked ‘What color of cast do you want?’ I said I wanted a yellow cast. He said that’s kind of a weird color for a cast. I said I want yellow for the Corn Festival. My entire wardrobe that week is planned out for the Corn Festival, especially when I was in second grade.”
The 42nd Annual Clinton County Corn Festival is set for Friday, Sept. 6 through Sunday, Sept. 8 at the Clinton County Fairgrounds. The event, presented by the Antique Power Club of Clinton County, this year features Case tractors and equipment. Daily admission price is $4.
“We have some new things coming this year — more of a concert theme, a country theme,” McKay said.
Nationally known country band Confederate Railroad headlines the festival, performing beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday at the sound stage.
“We’re really excited to have them come to Clinton County and be part of the Corn Festival,” said McKay.
The band scored two platinum albums in the 1990s, plus 10 Top 40 Billboard country singles including Top 10 singles “Queen of Memphis”, “Jesus and Mama”, “Daddy Never was the Cadillac Kind” and “Trashy Women”.
It’s festival seating for the concert, with seating under the main pavilion, and attendees are welcome to bring a lawn chair. There is no admission charge for the concert (it’s included in your ticket to the festival).
On Friday night Johnny Lawless and his band will take the stage at 7:30 p.m.
The concerts are sponsored by the Clinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
McKay also pointed out that, in addition to the Corn Festival showcasing everything from Tolliver’s apple butter to corn meal grinding to sawmills, “We have a good gas engine display this year. That’s something we’re trying to bring back — the gas engines and small engines will be cool — and also the garden tractors.”
Nothing puts the “corn” in the festival like the annual Corn Olympics sponsored by Clinton Memorial Hospital.
The teams’ theme this year is “Toy Story” and this year’s event will be held Saturday at 6 p.m. (instead of the usual time of 7:30 p.m.) and no pre-registration is needed to field a team. “Teams just need to show up onto the race track” at around 5:15 to 5:30 p.m., McKay said.
The annual parade through Wilmington gets going at 10 a.m. Saturday showcasing local groups and companies; and, of course, family tractors.
“You don’t need to register or anything,” said McKay of the parade. “Just line up at the race track (fairgrounds).
“You do have to have a valid driver’s license to have a tractor in the parade. Other than that, if you want to walk or have a float or whatever, just show up,” he added.
The 2019 Corn Festival’s show sponsors are Ferno, First State Bank, Fine Swine LLC, Altha Bodner, TimberTech, Smith-Feike-Minton, Wilmington Savings Bank, Clinton Memorial Hospital, Mayer Agri Equipment Inc., Mayer Farm Equipment LLC, Dave Stewart Electric, and Security & Sound Solutions.