An annual Shippensburg tradition is the latest victim of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Streets closed to traffic and full of food vendors, games and the annual corn eating contest will not be found on the last Saturday of August this year in Shippensburg on what would have been the 40th annual Shippensburg corn festival.
In a press release from late June, the Shippensburg Corn Festival committee announced that the 2020 Corn Festival was cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions. Instead, the 40th edition of the local favorite will be held Aug. 28, 2021.
In the press release, the corn festival committee listed several of the options it weighed to try and keep the festival this year. The committee considered moving the event out of Shippensburg, reducing the number of vendors and limiting how many people could enter the festival at a time. Ultimately, however, the committee felt that those restrictions would change the corn festival so much that it wouldn’t be the same event that the community loves, according to the press release.
Shippensburg Corn Festival President Debbie Weaver said the large crowds of people who attend the yearly event created additional concerns.
“There’s just no way we can bring 30,000 or more visitors and almost 300 vendors to downtown Shippensburg and ensure that everyone stays safe,” Weaver said in the release.
The Corn Festival committee is operated entirely by volunteers. This allows all the profits earned from the festival to be donated to the community. In the 39 years since its inception, the festival has donated more than $400,000 to community projects, the press release said.
Although the Corn Festival will not produce any income this year, the Corn Festival committee will still accept funding requests from the community and award grants in 2021. More information on the grants will be released on the Corn Festival’s website later this year.
The Corn Festival has always been about serving and preserving the community. The committee originated from the Shippensburg Heritage and Recreation Planning Society (SHARP). Local volunteers founded to promote awareness for and preserve Shippensburg’s heritage.
Volunteers originally created the Corn Festival to fundraise for a consultant who surveyed the town so it could apply to become a historic district. The event continued and became a Shippensburg community staple.