Fest Map

History of Corn Fest

DeKalb, IL

DeKalb Corn Fest Inc. is a not-for-profit organization run entirely by volunteers. Corn Fest has provided great food, family fun, and free entertainment since 1977. Over 100,000 people come to enjoy the food and listen to the music at Corn Fest each year. Your Sponsorship provides DeKalb Corn Fest the resources necessary to produce this amazing free music and food festival.

DeKalb Corn Fest started out as a corn boil by Delmonte in 1957 to give away free corn to the citizens as they began the harvest. The modern-day Corn Fest, as we know it now with music and vendor booths, began in 1977. At that time, the sound stage and beer garden were located in the alleyway between the Hillside Restaurant and The Egyptian Theatre. There used to be a permanent 12 foot by 12-foot concrete slab that was used as the stage. By the late 1970s, the stage made its way out of the alleyway and the Two Brothers Staging Co. was hired to erect a new platform stage. Its new location was right in front of the Egyptian Theatre. Palmer Court was then officially designated as the Corn Fest Beer Garden.

From the mid-1970s until the mid-1980s the sound stage was operated by the CAB Concert Committee at NIU. In 1986 when NIU stopped being involved, the Corn Fest Committee brought in Dave Bavido, a local radio personality, to help organize and run the sound stage. At that time the stage was moved again to a new location, the Northeast corner of the parking lot next to National Bank & Trust Company, formerly LNB. It was at this time that bigger music acts began to appear at the festival.

As the sound stage became more popular, more space was needed to be found, so once again, the stage was moved to its present location, in the middle of Locust Street, between 2nd & 3rd street. This opened up the entire parking lot to help accommodate the thousands of people that regularly attended. The parking lot was split down the middle, with the East half and Palmer Court as the beer garden, and the west half designated as the “free admission” section.

Over the years, musicians and bands like Phil Vassar, Lady Antebellum, Travis Tritt, Joan Jett, Survivor, Night Ranger, Blue Oyster Cult, .38 Special, The Marshall Tucker Band, Leon Russell, Koko Taylor, Jefferson Starship, Greg Kihn, The Smithereens, Junior Wells, Lonnie Brooks, Eddie Money, and The Grass Roots have graced the Corn Fest sound stage.