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Shippensburg Corn Festival draws more than 30,000

August 29, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. -- After 29 years, the Shippensburg Corn Festival continued to draw record crowds Saturday for a day of crafts, entertainment, children's activities and of course, corn.

More than 30,000 people fill downtown Shippensburg each year to celebrate the area's biggest agricultural product to buy myriad hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind items.

The festival has garnered a reputation among the more than 250 craft vendors who come to sell their wares, said Craft Chairwoman Eddy Parsall.

"I'd say this is the biggest craft fair in the area," she said.

With traffic restricted to the side streets, the vendors filled King Street with pottery, woodwork, soaps, jewelry and more.

For a vendor, the corn festival is ideal, said Carol Dillman of Dillman Woodcrafts.

Every year, Dillman and her husband travel from Berryville, Va., to sell their wares at the Shippensburg Corn Festival.

"People are not scared to buy here," Dillman said. "I have had a very good day."

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Craig Wesner, owner of Hand-carved Wood Flowers, has been setting up on King Street for the last 20 years.

Every year, Wesner said he does well, but exactly what makes him so successful in Shippensburg is a mystery.

"I don't know quite why, but I always do well here," he said.

Vendors like festivals that have a reputation for success, Dillman said.

Before Dillman applied to be a vendor four years ago, she said she got wind of the festival from other vendors who bragged about how well they did when they came to Shippensburg.

Since then, she has spread the good word and convinced her friends to join in.

Not only does the corn festival draw quality competition, it is one of the better-run festivals, Wesner said.

Mike Smith, who manages communications for the event, said approximately 70 volunteers were placed throughout town to keep the day running smoothly.

After 29 years, it is difficult to improve the event, but the committee leaders will see what they can do for the 30th anniversary in 2010, Smith said.

The festival Saturday featured the first corn-eating contest, with the winner eating nine ears of corn in four minutes and five ears in a 90-second "corn off," Smith said.

Shippensburg's Corn Festival is always held the last Saturday in August from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on King Street.

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