Porter Boone Park, 1105 Main Street
Aumsville Corn Festival – Top USA Festivals Photo Gallery
The immediate area around Salem attracted some of the Northwest’s earliest wagon-train settlers in the mid-1800s. In 1863, having arrived in the Willamette Valley more than a decade earlier, Henry L. Turner purchased land from John McHaley at the future site of the small town of Aumsville, east of Salem. At the time, the settlement was called Hoggum because so many people raised pigs in the area. Turner built a flour mill on the site. Soon thereafter, however, his son-in-law, Amos Davis, died at the age of 31 (a large headstone marks his grave in nearby Turner). Henry Turner, very fond of Davis, coined the town “Aumusville” in his honor (Davis was generally called “Aumus” rather than “Amos”), which eventually became Aumsville.
Even by then the rich floodplain soils of the Willamette Valley, along with the temperate climate, had proven conducive to agriculture in many forms. Early farmers grew nearly everything—potatoes, grains, berries, greens, even fruit trees. And while the climate here is not as ideal for corn as in the nation’s heartland, the state nonetheless has produced corn for both silage and consumption for generations; in 1908, in fact, the Oregon Agriculture
A vibrant corn-themed float at the Aumsville Corn Festival, held each August.
Experiment Station initiated a “corn improvement” program, largely aimed at creating genetic corn varieties better suited to the valley. Substantial cornfields began springing up in the Aumsville area, and to this day the area’s farmers still grow lots of corn.
The local corn is so important to the Aumsville area that in 1969 the town hosted a modest parade for kids—the first Aumsville Corn Festival. From those humble beginnings the event evolved into a robust daylong celebration that today draws visitors from throughout the area. The fun begins with a popular parade down Main Street in Aumsville late Saturday morning, with the Corn Festival Court in attendance. Then at noon, the festivities open at the event headquarters, expansive Porter Boone Park at the west end of Main Street. Naturally, the Aumsville Corn Festival abounds in corn—more than twenty tons of the golden goodness annually in recent years.
Attendees not only could purchase corn at bargain prices, but traditionally everyone gets two ears of cooked and buttered corn for free. Moreover, both kids and adults, not to mention onlookers, love the corn-on-the-cob eating contest, and a variety of other games keep the fun rolling throughout the day— sack races, egg toss, treasure hunt, and even a keg toss. Live music entertains the crowds and vendors provide foods, crafts, and other wares; the festival even presents novelty awards to attendees in a variety of categories, such as longest distance traveled to attend. Parking is generally easy at the park or nearby within walking distance.
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