Corn was on the minds of many on Tuesday, as roughly 1,000 meals were served by the Owatonna Early Edition Rotary Club (Minnesota, US — D 5960) during the group’s annual corn feed at the Owatonna Eagles Club.
“This is our tradition,” said Julie Rethemeier, who has been a member of Rotary for the past decade and assists with the feed each year. As a small club, she said, “we need all hands on deck.”
Indeed, with only 21 members, it’s paramount to enlist volunteers — like family members and friends of those in the club — to assist with the corn feed, said Jane Kubista, president of the club. “Everyone has their job, and it’s run really well.”
“It always amazes me to see how much corn we serve,” Kubista added.
“It gets hectic in the kitchen about an hour before we start, but we have it down to a science.”
Ron and Pat Jensen made their initial appearance at the corn feed a couple years ago, returning again on Tuesday, Pat said.
“It was new to us (then), and we were retired, so we could (attend),” she said.
“It was good the first time, and we like sweet corn,” Ron said. “All the food is good, and it’s a nice event.”
“It’s also nice that it’s indoors,” Pat said. “There are no flies in here.”
A delicious menu
The most fun part of the entire affair for Rethemeier actually happens the night before the feed, when club members gather to shuck a seemingly endless amount of corn, she said.
“It’s great team-building for our club,” she said.
The Corn Feed, now in its 11th year, is always conducted at the end of August.
Lakeside Foods donates the all-you-can-eat sweet corn for the fundraiser, and the rest of the menu includes chicken, bread, potato salad and cookies.
Some of Lakeside’s employees also attended the corn feed at the Eagles, like Sonya Peterson, Marsha Herberg, and Jessica Hogan.
“This is our corn, and it’s very good,” said Peterson, who has worked at Lakeside for over two decades.
She also appreciates helping the club fundraise for their worthy projects.
“I’m glad that it goes to help” so many worthwhile causes, Hogan said. “It’s a pretty good idea.”
“We enjoy it,” said Herberg, who has worked at Lakeside for 42 years. “It’s delicious.”
The Corn Feed is one of three noteworthy fundraisers for the club, with proceeds going toward the Fourth of July fireworks display, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, and a kindergarten reading initiative.
The fireworks on July 4 “are our signature,” as a club, Rethemeier said.
When the city, which previously paid for the show, was planning to discontinue the fireworks due to cost concerns, the club stepped in to fill the void.
“Our club found that to be a good community project,” she said. “It’s important to celebrate the Fourth of July.”
The Dolly Parton Imagination Library “has really grown,” with 1,211 books going out last month alone to children, Kubista said.
In addition, “every spring, we read to every kindergartner in town, and we give each of them a book for the summer.”
Growing food delivery orders
While the meal is prepared and served at the Eagles Club, food can also be delivered.
“Delivery has been a very popular option,” with plenty of local companies getting involved, and deliveries now account for more than half the meals served during the feed, Rethemeier said.
Businesses in town will order a plethora of meals, and though it can be challenging to coordinator all those deliveries, “there’s a method to our madness, and we’ve been able to do it successfully.”
CDI, for example, purchased 129 meals for their employees to enjoy Tuesday, Kubista said.
“That was wonderful of them,” she said.