After the cancellation of last year’s event, Swanton Corn Festival will return on Saturday, Aug. 7. The theme for this year is Magical Maize.
“After a one-year hiatus, the Corn Festival is back and ready to welcome everyone again,” said Alan Robasser, Corn Festival head chairperson. “We’ll have all the traditional food, lots of new entertainment on two stages, inflatables for the kids, and the Magical Maize parade to start things off.
The day will kick off with the annual Pharaoh’s car show starting at 9 a.m.
The Corn Fest parade will begin at 10:30 a.m. The parade will start at Brookside Drive, head south on Main Street, cross the tracks, head west on Garfield Avenue, and end at Elton Parkway. The parade will feature marching bands, floats, horses, and will be led by Grand Marshal Happy the Clown, Matt Onweller. A Swanton native, Happy the Clown, has dedicated years of his life to entertaining people of all ages in the greater northwest Ohio area.
Onweller got his start in clowning after going as a clown to a Halloween party in 1983 for a work party when he worked for the First Federal Bank of Delta. The next year, he was asked to come to a picnic to entertain in the clown suit. From there, his career as a clown took off. He continued to work for First Federal of Delta until 1999, when he began his full-time career as Happy the Clown.
Happy the Clown has entertained all over northwest Ohio and has also entertained in South Carolina, New England, Texas, Michigan, and Indiana. He has entertained at birthday parties of all ages (the oldest being 105), over the hill parties, daycare parties, the Swanton Fireworks show, Christmas in Swanton and the Swanton Cornfest. His entertainment ranges from balloon animals, magic shows, jokes, face painting and temporary hair coloring.
When he is not entertaining, Onweller enjoys gardening, and claims to have some of the best geraniums in town.
Outside of his clown entertainment, Onweller has also helped the community as a school crossing guard and has assisted in the past on school bus routes where many kids get off at large bus stops.
Onweller is a member of St. Richards parish and is a former member of the Delta Lions’ Club.
Traditional activities and offerings will follow the parade including chicken dinners, entertainment, a beer tent, vendor show, and kids rides There are also some new activities planned, including a kids home run derby starting at 4:30 p.m. with registration beginning at 3:30 p.m.
“If you’ve not been to Memorial Park in some time, the closed pavilion has been completely and beautifully remodeled,” said Robasser. “The open pavilion has also been replaced after a tree destroyed the original two years ago.”
Also new this year is a two-day 3 vs. 3 soccer tournament to begin at 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Other tournaments Saturday include a 21 and over corn hole tournament starting at 4:30 p.m., with registration beginning at 4 p.m. in the Upper Beer Garden and 3-on-3 basketball.
Although coronavirus did not stop the Corn Festival this year, it did delay the planning.
“The committee got of to a slow start waiting for indication from the state that festivals would be able to happen this summer without restrictions,” Robasser said. “However, everyone has been working diligently to pull everything together and hope the community can come out to enjoy the festivities.”
The entertainment lineup for Stage One will include Abbigale Rose from noon – 2 p.m.; The Forrest Family Band, 2:30 until 4:30 p.m.; and Bob Wurst from 5-7 p.m.
On Stage Two, Led by Faith will perform from noon to 1:15 p.m.; Happy the Clown will host a show from 1:30-2 p.m.; and the Swanton High School cheerleaders will perform at 2:30 p.m. just before the Swanton High School Meet the Teams event at 3 p.m. Corn Olympics is coming back this year from 4-5 p.m., and Shane Piasecki will round out the entertainment on Stage Two from 5-7 p.m.
Stirred Not Shaken, the winner of the 2019 Corn Fest Battle of the Bands, will be the entertainment in the beer tent from 8-11:30 p.m. Admission to the beer tent is $5 on Saturday.
Profits from the festival are put back into the community.
“Even though our profits each year are fairly minimal, the Corn Fest has been able to contribute to many local funds including the high school soccer field and the electronic sign in Memorial Park,” said Robasser. “We anticipate continued donations for upcoming park improvements.”
As in years past, the Swanton Local Schools Foundation will host an All-Class Reunion on Friday from 6-11 p.m. for individuals 21 and over in the beer tent. There is a $5 cover charge and there will be music by D.J. Vinnie Towell and singer, Slim. This event is open to those that did not attend Swanton High School as well.
New on Friday night will be a Swanton High School Baseball and Softball Alumni Co-ed Softball Game on Field 1 at 6 p.m.