National Cornhusking Contest Keeps Traditions Alive
120 cornhuskers gather in Marshall, Mo., for the annual National Cornhusking Contest
Mitchell Burns (left), author of "The National," and Frank Hennefent, reigning champion in the Men’s Open Class. These two friends typify the competitors who make the National Cornhusking Contest a friendly, family-oriented event.
Wagons, teams and competitors stand ready for the next round of husking competition.
Emma Johnson is treasurer of the National Cornhuskers Assn. and a contestant. “We go into the field as competitors,” she says, “but we come out as friends.”
John Van Liere’s father wouldn’t let him compete in the 1938 National Cornhusking Contest. By the 1970s, however, this Colton, S.D., farmer was entering and winning competitions at the state and national level.
Among the living legends at the 2012 National Cornhusking Contest: 91-year-old Joe Anholt, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who began husking corn competitively in 1940.
Picking “clean” can make the difference between winning or not, as contest officials weigh all husks and missed ears and deduct the weight from each competitor’s total.
The thumb hook is the most popular cornhusking implement among competitive huskers, although some still use wrist hooks, palm hooks and pegs.
Twelve teams of horses and mules drew wagons equipped with bangboards along the husking lanes.
Wagons and bangboards follow huskers down the row.