CAMP VERDE - With time-honored traditions and a few new activities, this year's Cornfest endeavors to be bigger than ever.
The 22nd annual event, scheduled for July 19-20, kicks off at 3 p.m. on Friday with live music by Two Fold. Roasted corn, cold water, sodas and beer will be available throughout the evening. At 6 p.m., Hired Hands will continue the first night's musical entertainment.
With the majority of Friday's activities geared toward adults, much of Saturday is focused on children, with a sack race and three-legged race, bubble gum blowing contest, a shoe race, a water balloon toss and a water blaster contest on tap. The Arizona Flywheelers will also be at Cornfest, chugging and puffing their antique engines.
At 11 a.m., there will also be a Prince and Princess contest for children ages 3 to 5 years.
In conjunction with Cornfest, Fort Verde State Historic Park will host a 1860s-era vintage baseball game, at noon, with the Camp Verde Excelsiors taking on a team fielded by Lance Busch, commissioner of the Arizona Territorial Vintage Baseball League. Fort Verde is looking for players to fill the Camp Verde Excelsiors squad. Fort Verde will supply the uniforms and the equipment. For more information, contact Park Manager Sheila Stubler at 567-3275.
An early-morning birding excursion is one of the new goings-on for this year's celebration.
Nikki Miller, president of Camp Verde Promotions, "was really interested in trying some different river events," says Chip Norton, Camp Verde resident and community volunteer. "So we sat down and planned it."
Norton will help lead the birding excursions, scheduled to depart from Rezzonico Family Park at both 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.
"We thought it would be a good time to take people out and introduce them to the Verde River," Norton says. "And it's a great excuse for me to get on the river."
Norton says each of the two excursions will last approximately 90 minutes. "We will walk around and introduce people to the bird life and to the Verde River," he says. "On a good trip, we might see 40 different species of birds. Then again, you might only see five [different species]. But you'll always see something special."
Norton recommends that anyone participating in the bird excursions bring binoculars. He also recommends bringing drinking water and wearing walking or hiking shoes. For more information, contact Chip Norton at (928) 300-9013.
According to Miller, Cornfest needs volunteers to set up tables and awnings, help roast corn, take trash to dumpsters and to break down tables and decorations on Saturday night. Miller says that at least 60 volunteers are needed to roast corn.
"It's amazing how much it takes to put on an event like this," Miller says. "Camp Verde Promotions has been working on [organizing Cornfest] since January. But we do this so Camp Verde's traditions will not go away."
The Verde Valley Archaeology Center will also be open, as well as the Camp Verde Historical Society Museum and the Old Rock Jail on Hollamon Street. There will be a street dance Saturday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Hollamon Street, just outside the gates of Fort Verde, which will be open with free admission all day Saturday. Discounts will also be available for Out of Africa and Verde River Adventure Center.
For more information about Cornfest, visit http://www.campverdepromotions.org.
If You Go...
What: Camp Verde Cornfest
Where: Camp Verde Community Center Soccer Field and Ramada at Main Street and Hollamon Street in downtown Camp Verde
When: Friday, July 19, from 3 to 10 p.m., and Saturday, July 20, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.