Traditionally, the festival sponsored by the tiny town of Olathe has been held for one day in August, and in recent years, a major country star has headlined the closing nighttime concert.
But this is the Sweet Corn Festival’s 20th anniversary, said Festival Director Bobbi Sale, and the decision was made to give something special back to the community to start on Friday afternoon, Aug. 5, and extend through Saturday, Aug. 6.
Sale said the festival was able to offer the two-for-one special by cutting back on expenses, like the cost of the headliners.
Last year Wynonna Judd was the headliner, and in years past the festival booked country superstars like Clint Black and LeAnn Rhimes.
So this year, the festival is offering two headliners who cost a little less, 60s legendary rock band The Guess Who and country singer/songwriter Aaron Tippin, champion of the working man and patriotic causes.
The festival will kick off with a classic car show and “tire burnout” at the baseball field in downtown Olathe at 3 p.m. on Aug. 5, and gates to the festival grounds will open at 5 p.m. The Guess Who performs at 9 p.m. on Friday night. The festival gates will open at 9 a.m. Saturday morning and Tippin performs at 9 p.m.
There will be plenty of vendors, including many local nonprofits, and selling food, crafts and artwork. Booths will also be giving away all the sweet corn you can eat – for free.
The festival hasn’t made money every year, Sale said, and last year the town actually lost money.
That might have been because of rainy weather, said Olathe Town Manager Scott Harold, and he said the idea for two headline shows for the price of one should help the town’s economy this year.
“We have spent a lot of time thinking about what we do and why we do it and how we could increase our attendance,” he said.
Friday limited festivities have always been put on downtown for locals by the Olathe Chamber of Commerce, and traditionally include a classic car show and “tire burnout.”
Classic cars are popular with an older crowd, so bringing in a vintage 60s and 70s band like The Guess Who could attract the same crowd to a concert at Community Park, Harold said.
“The burnout happens about 6:30 or 7 (p.m.) and the concert’s at 9, so we can tie the two together and have everybody show up for both,” he said. The town offers free shuttles between downtown and the park.
The hope is that those visitors will “spend a few more nickels” than the town of 1,700 would normally get the day before the main event.
The festival has been profitable some years, Harold said, and the biggest in recent times have been when superstars like Rhimes or Randy Travis appeared and attendance was between 15,000 and 20,000.
The Guess Who, whose hit singles included “American Woman” and “These Eyes,” will probably draw a different crowd from the Tippin concert on Saturday, and that’s the goal, Harold said.
“By expanding to two days, we’ll bring even more people into town,” he said. “We’ll have two different concerts and two different clienteles.”
With the exception of reserve seating ticket prices are the same as last year, Harold said, $19 for one adult, with discounts for kids and seniors. Tickets will be a few dollars more at the door, he said. Details on tickets, vendors and concerts will soon be available online at www.olathsweetcornfest.com.