Hoping for kernel of truth: If you volunteer for it, they will come

If you don’t want the Olathe Sweet Corn Festival to get creamed, it’s best to pipe up now and volunteer.

A handful of organizers have taken over initial planning to host this year’s 23rd-annual event, but they warn a festival won’t occur without an outpouring of volunteers.

“Five people can’t run an event for 5,000 people,” said Jeff Bachman, a festival board member. “We don’t know if it’s something we have to scale back on. We definitely want to see it happen.”

Bachman said organizers will decide after a 6 p.m. meeting Tuesday night at Harvest Community Church in Olathe whether the committee has enough volunteers to make a go of this year’s festival. Anyone is invited to attend the meeting and sign on to help coordinate the event. Those who cannot attend the meeting can telephone the three listed board members on the website for the Olathe Sweet Corn Festival, olathesweet
cornfest.com.

Bachman said an organization, or about 100 to 200 people, are needed to shuck, cook and hand out corn. Volunteers with Habitat For Humanity have volunteered in the past, and the organization was paid to do the work, Bachman said. Habitat has declined the duties this year, Bachman said.

In the past, church groups have helped clean up the festival grounds, also receiving some kind of compensation.

Bachman said receiving some sponsorships for the festival is important, but organizers are more concerned whether enough volunteers will be available to host the event.

“We need people to say, ‘Hey, we’ll be in charge of lining up vendors or checking porta-potties,’” he said.

Organizers pulled off last year’s festival after an on-again, off-again scare. The town of Olathe pulled its funding for the event last year. Town trustees said it was a tough decision, but was necessary to afford basic town services.

During some years, the festival operates at a loss.

Last year’s festival, dubbed “Back to our Roots,” was broached as a toned-down affair that attracted up to 5,000 visitors.

In its heyday, the Olathe Sweet Corn Festival operated as a multi-day event, luring country music stars like Travis Tritt, Joe Diffie and LeAnn Rimes with crowds swelling up to 20,000.


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