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Corn Carnival Community Church Service “Coming Home To Family”

June 29, 2012
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Below is the message given at the Community Church Service by Guest Speaker Nicole Clapp Good Morning! There is a reason we are all here this Sunday Morning; to once again reflect on how Corn Carnival brings us all together as family and friends. I tried to recall how many Corn Carnivals I have attended in my 41 years of life. I think I have only missed 6 times, so I would have to say that 35 years of Corn Carnival has provided me with many experiences that have helped shape the person I have become. Time goes by so fast and we get caught up in the here and now that we sometimes forget how we got here in the first place. 90 Years of Family Fun. It is hard to believe that back in 1913; Gladbrook had a vision to celebrate the hard work and dedication of our small town farming families that has outlasted many milestones of other towns and cities regardless of size. It wasn’t held every year due to the wars, but 90 festivals are truly remarkable. I believe Gladbrook as been successful, because, those of us born and raised here truly understand that family, commitment, and worship for a greater cause are sacred values and need to be cherished and passed down from generation to generation. It is a tribute to those citizens back in the early 1900’s that Gladbrook is, “Alive and Growing’. At Gifts of Grace, I got a copy of the Sacred Acre book about Parkersburg’s Coach Ed Thomas. I believe Corn Carnival is our sacred acre. So, let’s take a short trip down memory lane and I would like to share with you some life lessons about the importance of family and friendship that has centered on Corn Carnival. As we think back at these special times, I imagine you will recall your very own similar experiences growing up in Gladbrook. The anticipation of the carnival rides being set up was almost more than a child at the age 6 could handle. I recall riding my bike uptown to Main Street to sit on the wooden benches for hours watching the rides being assembled. I would stop to see Mom working at Wentizen’s to make sure she had bought me enough ride tickets because Thursday and Saturday nights were my nights to ride the rides. There were no wrist bands back then. But, I was taught to do my work first; before I got to go out and play. Carnival is not just about playing; it is working hard, too. All of us joining together to make our celebration special, even at a young age, I had fun digging up vegetables for the Flower & Garden Show and then helping place the ribbons on the entries on Thursday of Carnival. The highlight of my Corn Carnival memories is how I loved the Kiddies’ Parade! My first float was advertising for the drive-in. Mom and Dad put me to work at just 8 months old, by bribing me, to stay sitting on the float by feeding me ice cream cones without the ice cream, at my very 1st Corn Carnival! Dad’s craftsmanship came in handy way back then, too. One year, Dad carved a honey bee hive out of one continuous piece of bark for my Winnie the Pooh float. As I got older and was able to help, my job was to stuff the chicken wire with colored napkins usually for the backdrop of the floats. I am sure many of you can remember the hours spent decorating floats and bikes. So, I learned early on working together can be fun and even rewarding, when you would come home with a ribbon for your scrapbook. I was a very fortunate little girl who had the pleasure of having my great grandparents and grandparents as my babysitters. So, the values of common courtesy, respect, and patience with our elderly population were ever present. Great Grandpa Schroeder would take me to one of the food stands for an early dinner on Friday night, then next to the corner of Peace Church to watch the Grand Parade. Of course, our chairs had been strategically placed since 8 am for just the perfect spot to watch the floats, horses, bands and to receive all that candy. Then right after the parade, we would walk back to his house to spend Friday night, as mom and dad were working in either the church or legion food stands. As there were way too many people uptown for a little girl and her great grandpa. I am still amazed by how Gladbrook balloons in size on Friday night of Carnival. I also believe, we cross our fingers and ask for a little help from Mother Nature to cooperate at 6:30 on Friday night! It was always an honor to be asked to ride on one of the creative beautiful handcrafted floats. Be it for the American Legion and Auxiliary, Peace Church, Women’s Club, etc. or to march in the high school band proudly playing the Panther Fight Song on my saxophone. I am sure many returning alumni remember playing in the band, riding on homecoming floats, and now on their very creative alumni parade entries. My fondest Grand Parade moment was serving as the Grand Marshal in 1988, the year I was elected the National American Legion Auxiliary Junior President. I was so honored when Chuck Bearden suggested a 17 year old girl should lead the Grand Parade. It is somewhat ironic that 24 years later my Mom and Dad have been given the same honor. The two people, who taught me very early on to always volunteer, never say no, and give back to your community in all aspects of your life. That is the sacred value of living in a small town and today, people would call it, “Paying it Forward”. All of you who know me, would have to agree I am a go-getter and am willing to try just about anything. Mom instilled in me, President JF Kennedy’s motto: “Things don’t just happen; you have to make them happen.” Being scared of an opponent or obstacle in your life and letting it control the outcome of your actions is an example of, just letting things happen. Corn Carnival doesn’t just happen it takes the officers, board members, and lots of volunteers to make it happen. Growing up in a small community you have many opportunities to make things happen. I remember when I started the first ever Kids Day at Corn Carnival on Saturday morning. We needed to make something happen to fill the void on Saturday before the rides would begin running in the afternoon and I also needed a 4-H project. I am very happy to say, 25 years later; it is stronger and bigger than ever. I also remember watching in awe, as the huge orange and white pinstriped Merchant’s tent was being erected at the west end of Main Street! I know many of us miss the big Merchants Tent, signing up for prizes, the fish pond, and collecting enough pencils to last the whole school year. I even won a bike at the Boy Scout raffle one year. I knew I had a passion to help people and wanted to give back to my community, since I was in 4th grade when Mom and Dad became EMT’s. But, I didn’t know what career path I wanted to take to be able to help people, so I took advantage of opportunities to volunteer taking blood pressures or performing first aid at the Ambulance Booth in the merchant’s tent to find my calling, and I can honestly say I love my career choice, and I have the Gladbrook Corn Carnival to partially thank for it! Students of Gladbrook-Reinbeck have many opportunities to volunteer and earn community service hours, while experiencing the vast variety of what Corn Carnival has to offer by getting involved. I moved away from Gladbrook 23 years ago. I traditionally come home twice a year, once for Christmas and I bet all of you can guess what the other visit centers around. I enjoy running the cash register at the food stand during all the craziness of Friday night after the Grand Parade and helping out at Kids Day. I also get a chance to see so many old friends and reflect on those sacred memories that Corn Carnival has given each of us and bring us back home, year after year. It is refreshing and comforting to know that some things are constant in our lives; like calling home and finding out what the dates for Corn Carnival are and knowing that Keith Sash will step off the Grand Parade at exactly 6:30 PM sharp on Friday night in the beautiful sunshine. I personally appreciate having our community worship service on the last day of Corn Carnival, as it is a way to reinforce and reflect upon what a sacred special event Corn Carnival is, centering on family and friends in our beloved little old Gladbrook! I hope you enjoyed our short trip down Corn Carnival memory lane to appreciate how both a small town and its famous celebration help shape our lives. Gladbrook, now has a larger than life symbol, when we look to heaven and see the newly painted water tower proudly conveying “Gladbrook, Home of Corn Carnival”, reminding us we have our own sacred acre to cherish. Thank You.

Article Photos

The 2012 Corn Carnival came to an end with the Community Worship Service on June 24th. The theme of the service was “Coming Home to Family”. The community choir did a beautiful job of singing “The Family of God” and “Song of Ruth”. The service of scripture, hymns, and prayer was conducted by Pastor Roger White, Pastor Robert Doner, PUCC Interim Mary Winkelpleck and Lay Leader Carolyn Moe. The guest speaker was Nicole Clapp. She  shared some life lessons about the importance of family and friendship that has centered on Corn Carnival. The offering will be given to the Gladbrook Vacation Bible School.



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