Diligence, family, and a whole lot of corn. Each and every Labor Day weekend, for the past 70 years, the Hoopeston Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) hosts the National Sweetcorn Festival. An annual celebration that originated to mark the yearly harvest of sweetcorn. For five days each year, our community comes together as one to reminisce about years gone by, make new memories with family and friends, and of course, eat some FREE HOT BUTTERED SWEETCORN.
Every year the Hoopeston Jaycees spend countless hours preparing for the National Sweetcorn Festival, planning for annual favorite events, as well as introducing new attractions. Classic American festival events that happen in Hoopeston include a midway full of carnival rides, games, and stands of delicious fried goodness; smashing cars at the demo derby; and a grand parade featuring marching bands, pageant queens, and plenty of candy.
Being the National Sweetcorn Capital of the World, we have to have our own unique twists to our festival. An antique steam engine cooks more than 50 tons hot buttered sweetcorn and is served up to approximately 20,000 visitors over the course of the weekend free of charge! With a line that wraps around the park, it is clear that Hoopeston really does sweetcorn the right way, the best way. And that corn will continue to be free to every visitor, as a tribute to so many people that have passed through our fields, proving that feeding our country really does start at home.
No classic American festival would be complete without a pageant, but here in Hoopeston, we do that bigger and better as well. In addition to the naming of a local girl as Miss Hoopeston, the official hostess for the Hoopeston Jaycees and the National Sweetcorn Festival, the National Sweetheart Pageant is a staple in our festival, and provides the opportunity for visitors across the country to really see what a small town community can offer. Each year, 1st runners-up from the state pageants of the Miss America Organization are invited to compete for the title of National Sweetheart, making Hoopeston a national name in the pageant industry, as well being a training ground for future Miss Americas; which in fact, we have seen nine Miss Americas grace our stage first.
Seen as the last hurrah of summer, the National Sweetcorn Festival provides an atmosphere to our community that is rare throughout the rest of the year. Residents take a renewed pride in their community and themselves and go about beautifying the city and their property. An atmosphere full of anticipation, camaraderie and pride overcomes our town, making it clear that our festival will be around for another 70 years. Even if for just one weekend a year, Hoopeston is the epitome of the title, “Best of US”.