Annual festival unites community through planning, hard work, fundraising.
By Krysta Fauria
La Habra Journal
Each year, the La Habra Corn Festival continues to be the largest fundraiser and community event throughout the city. This year’s 64th anniversary of the event proved to be another hit for attendees of all ages.
While entertaining local residents for more than six decades, few people know what it takes to put this event and the corresponding annual parade together. Aside from the efforts of the La Habra Lions Club, which hosts the event every year, hundreds of people donate the money and time that is needed to make the festival happen.
“The corn festival has many parts and takes many months and many people to put together. Literally, thousands of man hours,” said Festival Chairman Roy Ramsland. It is the fourth consecutive year Ramsland has been tasked to chair the festival, and to many it was one of the best ever.
However, as most great organizers do, Ramsland surrounds himself with capable people to help. It is their efforts that help keep the many parts of the festival going. Some of these individual parts happen throughout the year and include the Miss La Habra Pageant, the car raffle, the parade and the Corn Festival’s marketplace, which features individual merchants and vendors. This year it was the La Habra Chamber of Commerce that sponsored the marketplace.
“Each of these subcomponents has a chairman who is a member of the Corn festival committee, which is chaired by the General Chairman,” Ramsland explained.
“In addition to these people, there are chairmen for each of the food booths that the Lions operate at the festival,” he explained. “It’s an entertainment coordinator, ride ticket sales chairman and a procurement chairman
In addition to the efforts of individuals, there are also a number of non-profit organizations that help organize and run the festival. A few examples of these organizations would be the Leos Club (comprised of high school students), the explorer scouts, and the La Habra High School girls volleyball boosters club and team, who spent hours shucking the roughly 12,000 ears of corn sold at the festival.
Even volunteers from around the country come to help make the Corn Festival a successful annual community event: “Brittany Beale, who is the daughter of two of our members, Bob and Karen, flew home from college in Michigan just so she could work the Corn Festival,” said John Creed, President of the La Habra Lions Club.
According to Creed, Kevin Kaplowitz, who volunteers every year with his family, also flew to the festival from his home and job as a medical doctor on the East Coast.
Because the festival contains so many complex components, planning for the event each year starts early and takes several months. The large events, such as the parade, the carnival and the pageant, begin planning in January.
One of the most popular events each year is the Corn Festival Parade. Residents stake out their spots along La Habra Boulevard as early as 7 a.m. for the parade that starts two hours later. However, before the parade can run down the center of the city, it has to be planned.
“We start with a theme and include that theme on the application that is sent out in January. We usually have around 200 entries,” said Kathy Felix, who is responsible for organizing the annual parade. This year’s parade brought 220 entries.
Although the amount of people and time that it takes to put this annual festival together is more than one would expect, no one is unsatisfied with the efforts they put in after the festival is over. Receiving the opportunity to raise money for needy children and bring the community together is an experience no one could regret.