National Cornhuskers Hall of Fame
(Page 2 of 3)
Winners of county contests advanced to state competition, and state winners and first runners-up competed in a national contest. The national events grew so popular that they attracted national radio and newspaper coverage, and magazines such as Reader's Digest, Newsweek, and Time published articles about cornhusking.
The 1936 Cornhusking Championship in Licking County, Ohio, attracted 160,000 spectators. At that time, the record crowd at a U.S. sporting event was 168,000 at the Memorial Day auto race in Indianapolis, making the cornhusking competition the second largest event of the era.
On Nov. 10,1932, the national cornhusking contest was held near Galva, Ill., just a few miles from Kewanee. Eighteen huskers from nine states competed. Rain, snow and sleet fell on the morning of the event, making it impossible for the Goodyear blimp to travel from Chicago to Galva. A broadcaster in the blimp had been slated to give play-by-play commentary for NBC radio.
The people of Galva festooned the downtown with corn decorations, and the post office offered a cornhusking cachet for stamp collectors. Schools and businesses closed because everyone wanted to watch the contest. Bands provided music before and during the event.
The local favorite, Carl Seiler, from nearby Oneida, Ill.., had a large crowd of boosters. As the 29-year-old southpaw made his way through the muddy fields, many of his fans followed him. Some of them left shoes and boots stuck in the mud.
Carl, the only left-handed husker to win the national championship, received a $100 prize. Celebrations included a luncheon in his honor in a nearby city, a downtown parade, and gift certificates from merchants. Oneida residents also held a banquet in his honor, and Kate Smith dedicated the song "Goofus"to him when she sang it on her national radio program. The champion also appeared on the WLS National Barn Dance radio program in Chicago, and demonstrated his cornhusking skills.