OLIVIA, Minn. (WCCO) — By this time, there should be some Minnesota sweet corn for sale at the roadside stands, but a cool, wet spring caused much of this year’s crop to be a little late.

That won’t put a stop, though, to one of the corniest celebrations in the world, in Renville County.

Corn Capital Days will get under way in less than two weeks in Olivia — the official Corn Capital of Minnesota.

“In Olivia, everything is about the corn,” said Betsy Hennen, as she stood near a 25-foot corn cob statue at the edge of town.

“Three years ago, my daughter got married,” she said, “and instead of throwing rice or bird seed, they threw corn afterwards. And then all the wedding party came out here and had their picture taken underneath the corn cob.”

The town celebrates its corn crop at the end of July with a festival that promises some of the freshest free sweet corn, straight from the fields and into the water.

“We have a whole team of guys shucking and cooking and it gets eaten right away,” said Mayor Sue Hilgert.

That is, if there’s anything available. Jake Schmoll, whose family is in charge of supplying the corn for the big community feed, said this year’s planting came two weeks late.

“We are kind of under pressure,” he said. “It’s going to be the first corn we have ready if we do, and we’re really hoping we do.”

Olivia has the title of Corn Capital because no place in the world has as many seed research and processing companies.

“I like to think of Olivia as the Silicon Valley of corn research,” said Mayor Hilgert.

It’s where hybrid seed corn production began, and there are now 15 people with PhDs in agronomy there, doing groundbreaking research.

For one weekend during this busy season, though, the focus is on fun.

And the motto for this year’s festival: “What happens in the corn field, stays in the corn field.”

Corn Capital Days activities include dances, a parade and a competition known as the Cornlympics.

The free corn feed is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, July 30.

Comments (8)
  1. Mr Corn says:

    Nice story Mike. I do believe though that the Senica Foods corn cob water tower near down town Rochester is the largest ear of corn in Minnesota. >:) a Link..

  2. Sarah in Outstate MN says:

    I agree with Mr. Corn. You can see the Sececa Foods corn cob for miles.

  3. Mike Binkley says:

    That’s a good distinction to make. Olivia calls it the World’s Largest corn cob statue. The water tower doesn’t qualify as a statue, but it does provide a larger ear of corn! Thanks for the clarification.

  4. anon says:

    The water tower is painted. This is actually sculpted like an ear of corn.

  5. Swamp Fox says:

    “This ain’t Kansas, Toto!” The Wizard of Oz’s Dorothy [MN’s Judy Garland] was right. Rodgers & Hammerstein’s song “I am as ‘corny’ as Kansas in August” was wrong! Olivia, MN is the Corn Capital and they have the corn to prove it!

    Now that’s what I call a “corny” news story outside of the MN State Legislature!!! Let;’s eat!

  6. jill moudry says:

    I was glad to find the article on Olivia MN. It may not be the biggest corn cob. in the state but it was claimed to fame before the other one in MN The people in Olivia have hearts that are sweet as the corn they grow. The people are friendly. I should now. I grew up there and know the town well. The fine people in Olivia are still working hard to produce the best sweet corn for Corn Capital Days in July. Go OLIVIA MN

  7. Becky says:

    Thanks for a great story! I wish I could have been there!

    I have a question that has been driving me crazy for some time now. I have watched many Finding Minnesota videos and in several of them (including Olivia’s Corn Capital Days and Lindstrom’s Famous Water Tower) there is guitar music playing in the background. Can someone please tell me who the artist is? The music is just fantastic!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.