HISTORY: Remember when 125,000 came to Dells at one time?
July 03. 2013 1:20PM
For a small town of 3,633 residents Dell Rapids has had some big attractions! One in particular brought 125,000 people to Dell Rapids.
Can you believe it? 125,000 people came to Dell Rapids in 1938 to view and participate in the National Corn Husking Contest held just north of town on Jim and Nellie Jensen’s farm.
The event began four days before the actual contest with 50,000 people attending the dedication ceremony. On the day of the event a steady stream of spectators began to arrive. They came by automobile, planes, and trains; any mode of transportation that was available was used. Cars were lined up for miles, waiting, anticipating till they were close enough to get a glimpse of the activities.
Tents were set up in what was called “Tent City”, land had to be cleared to accommodate the 35,000 cars, a temporary fire department was organized, a post office, and the emergency hospital all prearranged to prepare for the mass crowd.
The National Guard, the state highway patrol and patrolmen on horses were standing ready and prepared for handle any problems that may have occurred.
On the day of the event a two mile parade was led by Mayor Phillip of Dell Rapids.
At 11:44 a.m. the contest began with the starting bomb. 21 contestants representing eleven corn growing states began their way through the field, rapidly ripping and tearing each ear of corn from the stalk, one by one. The corn was flying off the bang boards with totals slowing growing.
A onetime and gentleman from Illinois could pick and throw 62 ears of corn a minute. The wet husks made it difficult to handle making each challenger work for their count. The huskers were bending, stretching and snapping the ears at an incredible rate. Eyeing the next piece of corn with each step, there were penalties for every missed ear or if you went too fast and neglected to strip the ear clean of the husk.
The furious activity stopped at 1:05 p.m. with the closing dynamite blast that had echoed through the ground. By days end, the 33 year old Ted Balko wins the contest by husking 1620 pounds of corn, a net of 22.64 bushels! His movements were described as “one long flowing harmony. Not wasting a motion or step.” The winner received a silver trophy and a $100 check.
What an event! What excitement for a little town! In 1999, a Historical Marker was dedicated at the site of the 1938 National Corn Husking Event, again placing Dell Rapids on the national map.
On Saturday, August 3, the Dell Rapids Chamber of Commerce is planning a full fun day of events to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the National Corn Husking Contest held in Dell Rapids.
Let’s bring back 125,000 people to Dell Rapids!