MARIETTA - Despite some raindrops, people flocked to the kickoff of the 2013 Marietta Sweet Corn Festival in East Muskingum Park Friday.
During the first two hours of service, 610 ears were shucked, cooked, buttered and handed out to the hungry diners that braved the occasional lightning strikes, claps of thunder and brief soaking rain.
Witten Farms donated 5,500 ears of corn for this weekend's festival.
Timmy Schnell, 5, of Belpre enjoys his two small ears of corn Friday evening at the Marietta Sweet Corn Festival. Sitting next to him is Tim Staats, 26, of Belpre. (Photo by Phil Foreman)
Festival volunteer Dean Tornes, 54, of Marietta butters each ear of corn, places it in a paper hot dog boat and gives it to his customers. (Photo by Phil Foreman)
Sweet Corn Festival volunteer Dean Tornes, 54, of Marietta apparently was the official corn butter dipper for at least a while Friday night. He kept his ears peeled as each customer asked the number of cobs. Each was buttered and placed in a paper hot dog boat.
"The corn is sweeter this year," Tornes said.
Timmy Schnell, 5, of Belpre cleared off his two buttered nubbins as if he'd been eating corn on the cob for years.
"That's good," Timmy said.
Barbecued pork and other edibles and merchandise were available from vendors in the park.
John Shepherd, 56, of Washington,W.Va., said he and his wife, Charlene, took in the 2012 event, and recalled that it also rained on Friday night last year. It's more pleasant now, he said.
"It's nice and cool, which is what we like," as they munched on corn and barbecue sandwiches.
John Shepherd said he has a particular method of buttering his sweet corn at home.
"I designate a stick of butter for corn," he said. "A little salt, and it's outstanding."
A sense of tradition, the sweet corn and the good the money raised does in the community brought Dell Nicholas, 76, of Marietta to the festival Friday night.
"The fact they can make money on something that supports the downtown merchants is fabulous," Nicholas said, who likes her sweet corn any way it comes.
Part of the Marietta Sweet Corn Festival proceeds goes into a scholarship fund for senior high school students in the area who want to study an agriculture-related field.
Included in Friday night's entertainment were The Moon Band and Johnny Staats Band. The festival continues today.