Huskers from across Midwest gather for national competition

Monday, October 24, 2005
Marshall resident Khris Deal checks out an ear of corn in preparation of the boys' under 21 age group competition in the Missouri state corn husking competition Friday.

Although the weather was less than ideal, the 2005 weekend of corn husking championships got under way Friday morning near Van Meter State Park with several spirited contestants competing in the Missouri state championships.

Contestants from all over the state arrived at the Hisle/Van Meter family-operated farm that lies just a stone's throw from Van Meter State Park.

The national championship was being held Saturday in Saline County for the fourth time since the event originated nearly seven decades ago and Missouri State Corn Husking Association President Carolyn Taylor said that it's an honor for the event, which was held here previously in 1937, 1987 and 1996, to be back in Saline County once again.

"It's an honor to have the state event held here but an even bigger honor for the national championships to be here again," Taylor said. "It's a dying art and this helps to keep it going."

Taylor also said that it took the effort of numerous Saline County residents and agribusinesses to help make this event a reality for Saline County.

More than two dozen pies of all types were lined up Saturday morning for the first ever homemade pie contest during the corn husking championship weekend.

"It's a lot of work and a lot of good people made a tremendous effort to keep this going," she said.

"We would have liked to have it at the Saline County Fairground [usually the site of the state competition], but the corn just wasn't good enough to make it fair for everybody," Taylor said. "Mike (Hisle) had the only cornfield still standing and somehow they (national organizers) found it. It's in excellent shape and the huskers are telling me that the corn is excellent for picking."

Hisle said he was surprised when he was initially approached about the possibility of having the national husking championships held at the farm that he and his family have operated since he was a child.

"It's a real nice honor. They (national organizers) were desperate to find a place because the drought we had this summer didn't leave a lot of places where they could hold the event," he explained. "So we did whatever we could to help out. I've lived here all my life and farmed this land with my brothers and my dad, so this is a real pleasure for this to be held here."

Lehman Jennings, a retired University of Missouri Extension employee who serves as an official and field worker for the state championships each year, agreed with Taylor on the magnitude of having the national event in Saline County.

"It's a real honor and an opportunity to bring each state's champion into Marshall to compete and have some good times," Jennings said.

Glenn Eilers, another Marshall resident who serves as the weighmaster for the competition, agreed with Taylor and Jennings.

"It's a lot of work but we have a good time and it's a community effort every year," Eilers said.

Preschoolers were among the youth taking part in the popular corn pile money hunt.

"I think the competition went excellent," Eilers said. "Overall I think everybody was happy with the way the corn picked and it's just been a great time."

"We've had a nice group of contestants throughout the weekend and the weather turned out real nice today," Jennings said. "The field was real good for picking and we enjoy seeing these teams working so well together. All in all, we've had a fantastic weekend. I wish everybody could get a chance to see how hard these people work doing these events."

National Cornhusking Association President Rob Roberts, a Missouri native, said the competition was everything the organizers and participants could have asked for.

"I think it's great for the community to see how this is done," Roberts said. "We have a lot of farm oriented people out here reliving their heritage. It's great to see the teamsters out here with their horses and wagons and see the contestants giving their all to something they love so much."

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