Amos Zittel & Sons Inc. took home the corn king trophy this year, and threw bags of their award-winning cord during the parade!
EDEN — The Eden Corn Festival would not exist without corn, and the growers who work to produce it are the backbone of the annual festival, and have been since it began.
“Agriculture is alive and well in Western New York,” said Terry Zittel, of Amos Zittel & Sons Inc. “It’s good for the growers and good for the people we sell it to, to know that we’re here.”
To that end, the Corn King award, what Zittel called “the crux of the festival,” awards the trophy to the grower who has produced the best corn of the year, determined by a series of criteria.
This year, Zittel’s took home the award, for the third year in a row. The corn is judged from a standard bag, which includes 60 ears, in order to ensure a fair sample.
“Years ago, I remember we had to painstakingly find 10 ears that were the best, but now, we submit a bag for the judges to husk back,” Zittel explained.
Dave Eckhardt, organizer of the competition, submitted the judging criteria, which includes both taste and appearance, husked and unhusked. Corn is judged by a point system, which includes size, length, girth, the straightness of kernel rows and color contrast. In the taste category, uncooked corn must be tender and creamy, not tough and crunchy, as well as sweet and flavorful.
This year, judges Henry Mroz and Ron Salzman were tasked with deciding whose corn took the prize. Zittel's 2470 Seiger corn took second, with the Seeway 2475 coming in first. Agle’s Farms took third place with its maize white corn. The competition was sponsored by Eden Valley Growers.
“Growers are still hanging on,” Zittel said. “Years ago, we’d have seven or eight growers entering, now it’s just three or four. But the festival really revolves around growing and the agriculture importance for this area.”
In addition to the growing competition, the corn festival also inducts new members to its Hall of Fame, each year. This year, Eden Valley Growers Inc. was inducted in the Eden Corn Festival Hall of Fame.
After the competition, the bags of corn were donated to the firemen who cooked it up for corn fest attendees, to showcase the star of the festival and the reason it all began.