Sat, Dec. 07

Hog calling, corniest joke, more all part of Cornfest

Staff photo by Carol Keefer

Enjoy the wonderful taste of fresh sweet corn that will be roasted and served slathered in butter at this year's Cornfest compliments of Hauser & Hauser Farms. Dan Zellner (sorting corn) and Claudia Hauser (background) were seen at the farming family's corn stand last summer.

This marks the 10th year for the amusing event that centers around its namesake "Corn." The fun time is something right out of "Mayberry" and it really shows the charming sense of humor that Camp Verdeans possess. When's the last time you took in or entered a hog-calling contest, ate your way through a corn-eating contest, shared your corniest (and probably worst) joke or tried your hand at corn shucking? What about a cow pie throwing contest? There's all that and plenty more.

The event is typically held on a leisurely Saturday evening so attendees have plenty of time to arrive and relax. "We can get out the heat a little bit," adds Bill Lee who runs the Parks and Recreation Department that hosts the annual event.

You'll discover what residents have known for years — that there's nothing better than the luscious taste of homegrown sweet corn slathered in creamy butter straight from the fields. The Hauser family, who it seems have been around the community forever, will once again provide their sugary-tasting crop grown right here in the valley under the beautiful Arizona sun. It's roasted to perfection and served picnic-style outdoors in the town's center. For a small charge you can enjoy a little or a lot of the oh-so-sweet Peaches 'n Cream type variety.

Don't be surprised if you run into the town's mayor, Brenda Hauser, who is often seen roasting and serving the popular yellow vegetable. If you want a dozen or so ears to take home, that too can be arranged. There will be a wagonload of the good stuff just waiting for takers.

Sit in the shade and enjoy the wonderful sounds of the Burnett Family Band inside the town's gazebo. The Flagstaff group has performed at many county fairs and public events including the Arizona State Fair 2001, Gila Valley Family Festival, Flagstaff Folk Festival, and a special concert at Ardrey Auditorium at Northern Arizona University. Very popular with locals, they often are highlighted at Camp Verde events.

The band consists of dad, Brian, on guitar and mom, Connie, on stand-up bass. Oldest daughter, Lyndsay, 18, and Rachel, 16 plays the fiddle and Jessie, 14, is on the mandolin and Ryan, 12, on the banjo. Everyone in the family sings besides playing instruments.

According to Connie, the Burnetts' first compact disc, "When He Cometh" was released in December of 2000. The group then went to Nashville to record four videos for a gospel show, "Music City Gospel Showcase" with Don Frost. The group's second CD "West of Yesterday" is being released this month. There are five original tunes written by Connie and a whole lot of bluegrass in between. From fiddle tunes and bluegrass to country sounds and gospel, they do it all.

There will be plenty of corn-type foods featured again at this year's Cornfest such as corn dogs, kettle corn and green-corn tamales. And if corn isn't your thing, there's usually bratwurst, hot dogs and other tasty food fare.

There will be train rides and games for the kids, art-and-craft vendors, a climbing wall and much, much more. Generally, there's some type of auction going on during the festivities.

Avada Arnold, who is more than 100 years old, and Ralph Smith, 93, have been selected as this year's Cornfest Queen and King. Both reside at Infinia at Camp Verde. Each year two older adults are honored with the special title.

The annual Cornfest is co-sponsored again by Budweiser and Bud Light.

So if you are interested in a really good corny time, come on down for this year's Cornfest. It promises to be one of the best Verde Valley Americana offerings of the season.

If You Go ...

What:10th Annual Cornfest

Where: Camp Verde Community Center, 395 S. Main St., Camp Verde

When: Saturday, July 20, 5-10:30 p.m.

Cost: Free; charges for food and some activities

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