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State husking competition is Sept. 29

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 10/03/2012 10:10 AM

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LAKE CITY, Minn. — Combines are already rolling across the countryside, harvesting 100-acre fields in hours.

But it wasn't always like that. The Minnesota's State Corn Husking Contest is an annual reminder of what corn harvesting used to be a like, a singular pursuit with man and horse working in unison to harvest one ear at a time.

Last year, close to 30 people competed in Minnesota's State Corn Husking Contest, held at the Corn Shredding Autumn Harvest Days near Oak Center.

Organizer Kathy Ofstie of Lake City is hoping for that many pickers or more this year.

There are several age categories. A youth competition is for those 21 and younger and a golden-agers competition will be held for men 75 and older and women 70 and older.

The senior men and senior women classes are for people age 50 and older and the young men and women classes are for those ages 21 to 49. An open event is for people of any age. Those 12 and younger can take part in an ear count event. The competition for youth and golden-agers is 10 minutes. It is 20 minutes for all other classes.

The contest begins with registration at 9 a.m. Sept. 29. Husking starts at 9:30 a.m. and the ear count event is at 10 a.m. There is no registration fee.

Ofstie said they hold the contest so the art of harvesting corn by hand isn't forgotten.

"Some of us enjoy it and we don't want to see it die," she said.

She started competing in 2002, the same year her father did.

It brought back pleasant childhood memories for him, Ofstie said. In fact, the golden-agers men group was their biggest group until the last couple years when participants have passed into their 80s and find it difficult to walk in the field. Some still come just to watch.

Husking is a family activity, with quite a few huskers having three generations involved. Sometimes, four generations compete.

The activity seems to be favored more by women than men. More young women giving it a try than young men. Ofstie hopes some members of the Lake City FFA will give husking a try this year.

Participants are scored not only on how many ears they pitch into the waiting wagon, but also on how many ears they leave in the field and how many husks are left on the corn that is harvested. The husks aren't deducted for the ear count event for those 12 and younger.

There is a $5 charge to enter Corn Shredding Autumn Harvest Days, but parking is free.

Minnesota's State Corn Husking Contest has been held for 32 years and has been held during Corn Shredding Autumn Harvest Days on Dwain Gerken's farm since 2005. The top three huskers from each category advance to nationals, which will be held on irrigated corn near Central City, Neb., on Oct. 21.

For more information, call Ofstie at (651) 923.4835.