By Julia Baratta, Freelance Writer
Bremen, IN – While today’s harvests include the use of large machinery and equipment, the hands-on approach was more common in days past. Families and neighbors would work together to ‘bring in the harvest’ before the weather changed for the worse. It became a time of fellowship and camaraderie as they took care of farm business, one handful at a time.
On Saturday, October 7, the Indiana State Corn Husking Contest was held at the Geyer Dairy Farm in Bremen, IN where the best time was based on the contestant’s quickness and precision with their hands. Lois Hoffman of Sherwood, MI was there as a participant for the second year.
“We are trying to keep these old traditions going,” Hoffman said. “Indiana is one of nine states who have this contest. These are family events. Two young girls came to the contest and competed along with their grandpa. It was a special time for them to be together.”
Hoffman explained how the corn husking contest is conducted. The participants are invited to check out the field and choose their row. They are looking for several different factors that will assist them in the competition. One is the location of the ears of corn on the stalk. A contestant will want the corn to be easily reachable for the contest as that is the first step in the contest.
The second step relates to the dryness of the husk. The drier the husk, the easier and cleaner the husks can be removed. Any husk left on the corn will be pulled off and collected to be weighed. The leftover husk and any missed or dropped ears of corn are put into a basket and taken to the scales. The weight is used to take points away from the participant’s total pounds of husked corn.
The deduction formula is as follows: anything up to 1 oz will receive no deductions while 1-2 oz of measurable waste will lose 1% of total weight for each ¼ oz of husks. From 2 oz and more, the total deductions are 3% for each ¼ oz. This is based on a 20 pound sample of the contestant’s pull from their row.
During the participant’s run, they are accompanied by a judge who informs them when they can start and when they are finished. They also have a gleaner who picks up the dropped or missed ears of corn that will be deducted from the total weight collected.
As the competitors husk the corn, they then throw them into a wagon which is set up with a backboard on the opposite side from the participant. This way they can pitch the corn in and be fairly sure the ear will fall into the wagon. If it misses, they can take the time to pick it up or leave it to be used against the total weight. It is a quick decision to make in the midst of the 20 minute time frame.
Hoffman placed second in the Senior Women’s Division, having husked 152 pounds of corn in the 20 minutes. She based her success to her childhood on the farm.
“When I was a kid, we had to husk out the corn to help Dad out in the field,” she said. “This is a way to keep these old farming traditions alive and that is why I have been doing it for the last couple of years.”
The top three finishers for each division were invited to compete at the National Corn Husking Contest in Marshall, MO.