Weather takes toll on Chatham's largest fundraiser
CHATHAM, Ill. (WICS) —
Severe weather is blamed for Chatham's Sweet Corn Festival losing nearly half of their usual attendance.
The Friday and Saturday festival had its smallest crowds in at least 16 years, said Chatham Village President Dave Kimsey.
Scorching heat was followed by severe rain and winds.
The festival is organized by the Chatham Jaycees, or Junior Chamber of Commerce.
"Tents were flying," said Dan Lund, president of the Chatham Jaycees. "The winds were catching them. Tent poles on this huge circus tent were shaking. We were scrambling trying to hold everything down, keep the rain off the tents and keep everything safe."
Normally the Sweet Corn Festival gets between 10,000 and 14,000 people.
This year, the festival got a third to half of their usual numbers, Kimsey said.
"It wreaked some havoc of the second day of the festival," he said. "Once the storms cleared at about 9 o'clock we had a little bit of a late start to everything we were doing."
The Jaycees Sweet Corn Festival is Chatham's biggest event and fundraiser.
Money from the festival pays for Christmas shopping for kids in the area who would otherwise go without in December.
"It will be a challenge for us this year for sure," Kimsey said. "The Jaycees have been around for a long time. So, over the years we've built ways in to provide for when we knew something like this would occur."
Despite taking a hit, Kimsey says they're determined to make up for this years' losses.
"The Chatham Jaycees have a 'never say die' attitude to everything they do," Kimsey said. "This is something that we look forward to and we know the kids look forward to. We're going to continue working the rest of the year to make sure we can put that event on for the children that need our help."
Sweet Corn Festival organizers will rely on Chatham Oktoberfest in late September to make up the difference.
"We really count on the Sweet Corn Festival to raise the majority of our funds to put back into the community," Lund said. "It just means we're going to work extra hard to put on events and get the community up so we can continue to do all the good that we do for Chatham."
Charitable donations can be made to 9505 S. Main St.