By Kristen Miller
The 65th annual Cokato Corn Carnival is only one week away one week until Peterson Park is filled with rides, games, food, and fun.
Kicking off the festivities is the parade Monday night, starting with the kiddie parade at 6 p.m. and the main parade to follow.
New this year, candy is being allowed back into the parade.
The Corn Carnival Committee took a survey of the parade participants, and the results showed they wanted candy back in, according to Corn Carnival Chair Dorene Erickson.
“But, we are very committed to safety and the candy must be walked nothing can be thrown from a vehicle,” she said.
Candy was eliminated about eight years ago due to safety concerns.
Also new this year comes a new set of guidelines for each of the food vendors at the carnival.
Two weeks after last year’s carnival ended, the committee received notification that it was non-compliant as far as serving food to the public.
“This year, all booths that serve food must be licensed by the Minnesota Department of Health,” Erickson said. This is a $90-fee.
All vendors have been notified and only one has decided not to back to the carnival, according to Erickson.
Now, all food vendors, including church booths, must follow certain guidelines when it comes to serving food, preparation of food, utensil washing, and hand-washing stations.
Also this year, with construction at Cokato Elementary, which is adjacent to the Corn Carnival grounds, there will only be slight adjustments made in the arrangement of the carnival and location of the portable restrooms. Otherwise, it won’t affect the carnival in any way, Erickson commented.
Entertainment following the parade, sponsored by the Cokato Ministerium, will be the Mahlstedt and Kingery families performing bluegrass and gospel music. This will be on the main stage.
The midway and rides open Tuesday and Wednesday at noon with food stands opening in the afternoon as well.
The long-standing tradition of free corn-on-the-cob continues starting Tuesday at 4 p.m. Corn will be served both Tuesday and Wednesday from 4 to 9 p.m.
Despite the difficult spring, Alan Anderson of Faribault Foods, the Cokato producer that donates the corn, assures “we’ll have corn.”
Each year, Faribault Foods donates 12 to 14 tons of corn just for the Cokato Corn Carnival. This is the equivalent of nearly two acres of corn, Anderson explained.
Anderson said he doesn’t expect there to be corn for Faribault’s canning operation until Aug. 15, which is late for them, but “I think by the end of [the] week, we’ll have some good eating ears that [are] ready.”
The annual Miss Cokato Coronation will take place Tuesday at 8 p.m. on the main stage with nine candidates. Learn about each of them inside.
Entertainment on the main stage Wednesday begins with the Mid-Minnesota Concert Band at 7 p.m., and the Half Steps at 8 p.m.
The Half Steps is a group of four men providing a cappella music for the past 18 years. This performance is in partnership with the Cokato Public Library and is funded, in part, by the Legacy amendment dollars.
The Cokato Museum will also be open extended hours each day of the carnival, including Monday, from 5 to 9 p.m., and Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The featured exhibit is “On the Boats and On the Trains, They Came to America,” sharing the story of the first Finnish settlers.
The festivities conclude Wednesday with a cash drawing at 10 p.m. for a 2014 Chevy Cruze and other cash prizes.
Full schedule for the 2014 Cokato Corn Carnival
Monday, Aug. 11
• 2-6 p.m. Used book sale at the Cokato Public Library.
• 6 p.m. Kiddie parade Participation awards will be given to all who enter.
• 6:20 p.m. Main parade, time approximate.
• Following parade Food stands, carnival rides and Midway open. Please note that there is no corn-on-the-cob served Monday evening.
• 8 p.m. Entertainment in Peterson Park, sponsored by the Cokato Ministerial Association.
Tuesday, Aug. 12
• Noon Rides and Midway open.
• Noon to 3 p.m. Registration for children’s drawing (14 and younger), near the bingo stand.
• 2 to 6 p.m. Library book sale.
• 3:15 p.m. Children’s drawing, main stage. Must be present to win.
• 4 to 9 p.m. Serving free corn-on-the-cob.
• 8 p.m. Annual Miss Cokato Coronation, main stage.
Wednesday, Aug. 13
• Noon Midway and carnival rides open.
• Noon to 3 p.m. Registration for children’s prize giveaway near the bingo stand.
• 3:15 p.m. Children’s prize drawing, main stage. Must be present to win.
• 4 to 9 p.m. Serving free corn-on-the-cob.
• 7 p.m. Entertainment by Mid-Minnesota Concert Band on the main stage.
• 8 p.m. Entertainment by the Half Steps on the main stage.
• 10 p.m. Drawing for the 2014 Chevy Cruze and cash prizes.