Barker Corn Festival makes a comeback on Aug. 13

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 8 August 2022 at 9:02 am

Contributed photos: A young volunteer takes corn from the roaster at a Barker Corn Fest years ago.

BARKER – A Barker tradition which delighted the area years ago is being revived.

For years, the Barker Lions Club sponsored an annual corn festival, until an aging membership and lack of volunteers resulted in it being discontinued.

Then a local resident, Heidi Dergel, who grew up in Barker, moved away for 20 years and returned five years ago, heard about the corn festival and decided to revive it. She formed a committee and started planning.

Barker mayor Aaron Nellist, deputy mayor Seanna Bradley, local resident Ruth Dent and Lions past president Scott Ecker helped in planning and supplied information on prior festivals.

As a result, the Barker Corn Fest will make its comeback on Aug. 13, with a variety of activities at the Barker Fire Hall pavilion on Quaker Road and a 5K run/walk at the Village Park on Main Street.

“The response has been great, and our group of organizers is getting bigger every day,” Dergel said. “It was a bit tough getting the ball rolling, but I can feel that it is already raising spirits in town. Most people I speak to say they are very excited to see the corn fest coming back, and that it has been sorely missed. They often tell me stories about the things they miss the most about the festival, from carnival games and a parade to the 5K.”

Ecker said at the Barker Lions board meeting Aug. 16, 1989, they voted to have a corn festival the following year, and the Barker Corn Fest was born. The first one, for which was proposed a pig roast, and those which followed, featured a 5K race, parade and games of skill, as well as vendors and a chicken barbecue.

An annual highlight of the Barker Corn Fest was the Barker Community Band, shown performing here at a corn fest from the past.

Ecker doesn’t remember how many years the festival continued but it met its demise a few years back when they were faced with aging members and lack of manpower. Then the ride companies wanted a three-day commitment, and there weren’t enough volunteers to do that, he said.

“I’m happy it’s returning,” Ecker said.

Local veterans lead off a parade to kick off a past Barker Corn Fest. The festival returns on Aug. 13.

The Lions are contemplating a booth to sell snow cones, added.

The festival will begin with the 5K run/walk at 9 a.m. in the Village Park on Main Street. From noon to 6 p.m., the Barker Community Band will entertain and a farmers’ market will take place. There will be local artisans and vendors, roast corn and food trucks, a tug-of-war and corn hole competitions.

The Dark Road Duo will play at 2 p.m. and Bad Influence Band at 5 p.m. A magic show is scheduled at 3 p.m.

Events for adults and kids will be ongoing through 10 p.m. Other features include bike night and a beer, wine and cider tent.

Major sponsors of the Corn Fest are Con Equip Construction Equipment Parts, Mahar Septic and Excavating, Sunrise Door and Woodworks, Harris’ Outdoor Services and Harris Farm.

Ecker said they are also grateful for local farmer Jim Bittner, who works for Niagara County Farm Bureau and runs the corn roaster.

“Next year the Corn Fest will be planned in July in combination with the 200th anniversary celebration of the town of Somerset,” Dergel said. “I am so thankful to the community members who have come out of the woodwork to make this happen. This incredible rebuilding year will no doubt make next year’s celebration an even bigger success.”