LODI — The Lodi Sweet Corn Festival was popping Friday in the tent of a new vendor, J.G. Kettle Corn of Ashland.
As co-owner Gordon Ruggles stirred the large kettle, some kernels exploded outside, leaving a circle of crunchy corn on the ground around the tent, set up in the middle of Letha House Field.
Ruggles’ wife and co-owner, Jane, said what makes their kettle corn different is the larger kernels they buy from Nebraska called Magic Mushrooms.
The couple travels to several counties each summer popping corn for festivals.
“This has been a nice festival. People are friendly and seem to be really enjoying our kettle corn,” Jane Ruggles said.
J.G. Kettle Corn is one of two new vendors at this year’s festival, said Yvonne Sivard, festival coordinator and director of the Lodi Chamber of Commerce.
The other newcomer is Nitro Scoops, which flash-freezes ice cream using liquid nitrogen. One of its specialty flavors for the weekend is sweet corn blueberry.
“It’s our first year of operation,” Nitro Scoops owner Trent Weinman, of Burbank, said. “We like being close to home. That’s the best part about this festival.”
Some of the best aspects of this year’s festival, Sivard said, have been the weather and the participation.
“We had a long parade Thursday night with more participation than we’ve had for the past few years,” she said. “It’s been great weather for a festival.”
Sivard said since the local crop was late this year, the Lodi Chamber of Commerce brought in corn from Long Shot Farms LLC in Avon.
“It varies each year, but we usually sell between 250 and 300 dozen ears of corn,” she said. “It’s very sweet and tasty corn this year.”
Eleven 12-dozen bags of corn were sold Thursday and 16 bags were expected to be sold Friday.
Westfield Fire and Rescue kept to tradition by serving old-fashioned root beer floats Friday night.
“Last year we sold out with 265 floats,” said Kevin Rych, president of the Westfield Fire Association. “We plan to do more than that this year.”
Rych said the association uses money raised at the festival to pay for equipment that otherwise isn’t covered by its budget.
Sivard said money the chamber raises with corn sales and raffles covers the cost of the festival and any additional money goes to the chamber.
A 10 p.m. fireworks show wound up the day Friday, but the festival will pick up again at 8 a.m. today with the Lodi Elementary 5K Run.
Contact reporter Katie Anderson at (330) 721-4012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.