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Kernels of Truth

Cob-nobbing with Minnesota’s sweetest summer crop

Kernels of Truth
Photo by David Pohl (Illustration)

7,900,000

Record number of acres of corn planted by Minnesota farmers this year, up 600,000 acres over 2006. Nationwide, 90.5 million acres of corn were planted in spring, a 15 percent increase over last year. Wondering what’s driving the craze? It’s not a surge in Jiffy Pop sales—it’s high demand for ethanol.

60

feet. Height of the World’s Largest Ear of Corn, a towering cob that shoots skyward from a lighted pedestal at the Seneca Foods Plant on the south side of Rochester. Built in 1932, the enormous ear serves as a working water tower for the operation, storing some 50,000 gallons.

25

feet. Height of the state’s other famous roadside cob, an oversized ear perched atop a gazebo in Olivia, dubbed the Corn Capital of the World. Home to nine seed research companies, the world’s largest seed corn broker, and a summer festival called Corn Capital Days (the last weekend in July), this town takes corn seriously. In 1979, organizers wooed singer Olivia Newton John to town to entertain during the popular fest and feed. Her pay? A couple dozen ears.

7

Number of corn-themed festivals scheduled around the state in August. Take your pick: the Giant Celebration (formerly Corn on the Curb) in Le Sueur, August 3 to 5; the Corn Carnival in Cokato, August 13 to 15; Corn on the Cob Days in Plainview, August 16 to 19; the New York Mills Corn Feed and Street Dance, August 17; Buttered Corn Days in Sleepy Eye, August 16 to 18; the 69th Annual Cornfest in Ortonville, August 17 to 19; or Corn Fest in Brooklyn Park, August 17 to 19. If you butter it, they will come.

175,000

Number of ears sold at the Corn Roast booth during the 2006 Minnesota State Fair—an all-time high, according to the owner. About 100 people work the steamy stand during the fair’s 12-day run, roasting, shucking, and serving up the super-sweet treat. Packing a fair survival kit? Don’t forget the floss.

Contributing editor Sandra Hoyt is fascinated by Jiffy Pop.


Things To Do Before…

the fireworks close the fair

1. IT'S COUNTY-FAIR season this month, so when St. Paul is packed with statewide spectators as varied as the Grandstand lineup (which includes Fergie, Joan Jett, Weird Al, and Def Leppard with STYX) beginning August 23 at the Minnesota State Fair, consider getting a head start down south. Farmington hosts the Dakota County Fair from August 6 to 12, offering livestock competitions, rodeos, live music, arts-and-crafts exhibitors, and all-things-agricultural. It also welcomes patrons to head back 100 years at its Heritage Village—or stick with today at the motocross races.

2. MINNESOTA STATE Fair–goers have long begrudged the policy of selling only 3.2 beer. Last year, visitors had to down 91,000 gallons of the stuff to loosen their inhibitions enough to eat cheese curds, step in cow pies, and hold hands with guys whose T-shirts say things like This isn’t a beer belly, it’s a gas tank for a sex machine. This year, fair officials relented and will allow regular beer to be sold, perhaps because they knew even the most fervent fans would need something stronger to stomach the new peanut-butter hot dogs, Spam burgers, and deep-fried fruit.

3. AS IT TURNS OUT, the thrill is not gone for the King of the Blues. At 81, the living legend himself, B. B. King—with Lucille, of course—comes to town for the state fair. Joined by the oh-so-soulfully smooth sounds of the Reverend Al Green and Etta James, the B. B. King Blues Festival hits the Grandstand August 30. Paying the cost to be the boss at this show will set you back $42.



Parktacular

Be sure to read the fine print on your next parking citation. If you’re a first-time offender at a Minneapolis Park and Recreation site, you can save $8 by purchasing an annual patron parking permit in lieu of paying the ticket. Repeat offenders are out of luck.
—CAROL RATELLE LEACH

Dog Days

Every dog has its day. And with local governments doling out honorary days like candy at Halloween, it seems each person might get one, too. So far this year, the Minneapolis mayor’s office has proclaimed Ann Bancroft Day, to recognize our homegrown Arctic explorer, as well as Barbara Flanagan and Al Sicherman days to honor the longtime Star Tribune columnists for their tireless advocacy of sidewalk dining and Little Debbie snack cakes. If your resumé seems a bit thin by comparison, take your case to St. Paul, where the mayor’s office will send any petitioner a certificate acknowledging his or her official day—as long as there’s no blatant commercialism, criminal activity, or controversy involved. Both mayoral offices say they see the proclamations as a valuable way to celebrate the accomplishments of residents and community organizations. We’re just wondering how recess got its own week in Minneapolis while 911 dispatchers got just one day.
—RACHEL HUTTON

Old World Finds

Grab your straw shopper and oversize sunglasses—Macy’s annual Flea Market is back. The temporary boutique features a regularly changing collection of new and vintage finds from Europe (think London’s Portobello Road). But this is no garage sale: trinkets and treasures range from $1 to $15,000. This month the market features pop culture, library, industrial, and bar-themed goods. Macy’s, 700 Nicollet Mall, lower level, Minneapolis, 612-375-2200
—ELIZABETH DEHN

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