For the who’s who of Agassiz’s corn world, the Fall Fair parade is a pretty big deal.
“That is when the public gets its first view of the new Corn King,” Rita Bruneski, director with the Agassiz Agricultural and Horticultural Association, explained.
“It’s the first glimpse for people who are really interested in that,” she continued. “That is a pretty serious secret until that day. They (the Corn King) are only notified the day before that they’ve won.”
Being named the Corn King, or Queen, is a time-honoured tradition for the Corn Festival. For the 71st time this year, farmers wanting to be considered for the royal seat had to register their forage corn fields in mid-August for judging.
Judges from the Agassiz Research and Development Centre head out to each of the fields to examine them on the uniformity of the stand, weed control, dry matter content, maturity and fertilizer use.
Each field must be at least two acres, and the top three competitors go home with cash prizes.
But only the best get to be crowned King or Queen — a title that has been hotly contested since the beginning of the festival.
|Agassiz’s first Corn Queen, Michelle Stuyt, on a wagon with Victoria Brookes, Alex Charles, and Rita Bruneski, 2007. (Agassiz-Harrison Historical Society)|
After the royal procession in the Fall Fair parade, the Corn King or Queen is presented to the public on stage, and given a crown and robe from the previous year’s royalty.
Many times, the crown has gone to the same farmer or farming family — the Vander Wyks have won 12 times in the last 71 years, while the Hoogendoorns have won nine times and the Van Laerhovens have won six.
Last year, Gord Peterson won his first crown, taking it from two-time Corn Queen Michelle Stuyt.
Will Peterson be named Corn King once more? Or will the title go to another Agassiz farmer?
There’s no way to know until the parade at 10 a.m. on Saturday, since the royal winner is a close kept secret until then.
“There’s even only a couple directors that know,” Victoria Brookes, president of the Agricultural Association, said.
“We don’t want anyone to make a slip.”