Windsor

Tecumseh's Corn Festival too corny? Residents push for 'overhaul' of popular event

Tecumseh's Corn Festival is getting stale, and perhaps a bit corny, prompting the municipality to explore every kernel of the ideas submitted by the public.

Staff were all ears, buttering up residents for ways to sweeten the 44-year-old festival

The Town of Tecumseh buttered up residents Wednesday as it looks for ways to sweeten the 44-year-old festival. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Tecumseh's Corn Festival is getting stale, and perhaps a bit too corny, which is why the municipality is exploring every kernel of the ideas submitted by the public.

Staff were all ears Wednesday night, buttering up residents for ways to sweeten the 44-year-old festival.

"I think it needs to get gutted straight down to the bottom and re-built from the bottom up," said Tecumseh resident Chris Laliberte.

From entertainment and food to vendors, the quality of the corn festival has declined over the years, he said. Laliberte is hoping to see changes that will grow the number of people aged 18 to 40 attending the festival, as he believes it's currently catered to young kids or older adults.

Chris Laliberte says Tecumseh's Corn Festival needs to do a better job attracting younger demographics. (Jason Viau/CBC)

'I think it's gotten a little too old'

That's one of the reasons Jeannette Rocheleau stopped attending, after making it an annual family tradition for many years.

"I think it's gotten a little too old, in terms of where the demographic was going," she said, recalling the festival's two separate promotions of seniors day and golden oldies. "I'm older than perhaps some people, but I'm not that old yet."

Jeannette Rocheleau says one of the reasons she stopped attending the Corn Festival was because 'it's gotten a little too old' for her. (Jason Viau/CBC)

To bring her back, she believes the festival needs "almost an overhaul." Rocheleau suggested local restaurants come together for a friendly competition to see who can make the best corn-based dish.

"They really need to look at every single aspect of it," she said.

Festival not in jeopardy

And that's what the town plans on doing, looking to harvest each comment and plant new seeds that will hopefully allow the festival to evolve.

"There's nothing in jeopardy here," said Paul Anthony, Tecumseh's director of parks and recreation. "The festival is moving forward ... This is more to re-look at it, see what we can do, let's make some changes."

Miss Tecumseh 2016 Maria Giorlando said she hopes the festival will never fizzle out, and be uprooted in a way that may force it to shutter.

"I think it would be devastating. It is really something, again, that provides that sense of community," said Giorlando. "I'm excited to see where it goes and to still have it around." 

Maria Giorlando won the Miss Tecumseh 2016 pageant. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Competition a challenge

Some of the big challenges for Tecumseh's corn fest, as with many others, is the fierce competition for sponsorship dollars, and the sheer number of other festivals happening during the summer months across Windsor-Essex.

Despite festival revenue, it still costs the municipality anywhere between $30,000 and $60,000 each year as a way to provide entertainment and options for locals.

Residents can also submit comments on the town's website. A report will then be submitted to Tecumseh council in the next few months that would change the 2020 Corn Festival.

Whatever new direction council decides to take, many hope to plow over the old and pop into a new version of the corn fest.

About the Author

Jason Viau is a video journalist, TV host and radio newsreader at CBC Windsor. He was born in North Bay, but has lived in Windsor for most of his life. Since graduating from St. Clair College, he's worked in print, TV and radio. Email him at jason.viau@cbc.ca

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