I live in a tiny, quaint little town in south central Pennsylvania called Shippensburg. Founded in 1730, according to the borough website, it’s 2.5 square miles with a population of 5.5 thousand people. It’s got the small town feeling nailed down, complete with a couple little tables in a walkway that have chess (or checker) boards built in. It’s calm and generally quiet, except for the occasional noise we get from the fairgrounds where they hold tractor pulls and the like.
And then there’s today.
Today, all hell breaks loose, and chaos lands in the heart of our little town. They close off about a half mile of King Street and all the little side roads that lead into it. Vendors with tents and canopies descend, food trucks and a couple bands, to sell their wares and entertain the masses. This is what we call the Corn Festival.
I read an interesting article recently, written by someone from the Shippensburg Historical Society that talked about the origins of the Corn Festival. Back in the late 70’s, a couple of historic homes were torn down to make way for the McDonald’s that sits on King Street. Under these homes were the foundations of some of the original log homes from the first settlement here. Up until that time, there were no laws or regulations regarding historic buildings, and the Corn Festival began as a fundraiser in order to protect these old structures. And it has endured. This was the 35th year.
People drive in from all round to attend (Dylan and I spoke to a couple that drove in all the way from Philly), with estimates of 35,000 people all crammed on King Street. That’s a lot of people and vehicles that descend on our little town. It makes me glad that we live just around the corner so we don’t have to worry at all about having to find vehicular accommodations.
While we were wandering, the Shippensburg University drum line came marching through. They even stopped there on Penn Street and performed a couple of short little numbers. That was really neat, and I enjoyed that quite a lot.
I have a lot of fun walking the length of the street, taking a look at all the different vendors. This year I think I behaved pretty well in the shopping department. I only bought a couple different things, not counting food. The only thing there that Dylan really cares about is the crab cake sandwich. At this time last year, I still wasn’t of the seafood belief system, so I passed….but this year I had to try it. And oh! That was an amazing sandwich! Now I know why Dylan always gets one, even if he ignores the rest of the festival.
It’s a great little festival, started as a way to preserve history, and I love that. Handmade crafts and jewelry, how can you go wrong with that?