WEST POINT – As parade time approached Sunday, those in the annual West Point Sweet Corn Festival parade put finishing touches on their floats and filled buckets with lollipops and tootsie rolls.
At noon, they marched, drove and danced about a mile down Main Street, past hundreds of residents in lawn chairs, to promote their small parts of the larger community.
Kathy Krogmeier of West Point dressed in costume as an ear of corn, as her coworkers Marsha Anderson and Barb Grabowski, both of Fort Madison, walked alongside her as salt and pepper shakers. The three all work at the Fort Madison YMCA and hoped to promote the services it provides.
The women made the costume out of an old cardboard box and discounted christmas decorations. At first, Krogmeier said, it was going to be a stick of butter, but then realized it looked like the “Holy Shuck” cartoon mascot used to advertise this year’s festival.
For added laughs, Krogmeier’s costume read “Does this cob make my corn look big?” on the backside.
A group of employees from the Fort Madison Community Hospital drove a cart decorated to look like a surgical nurse. Angie Budnik, community relations director at the hospital, said the goal of the float was to encourage safety practices in the community, such as wearing bike helmets.
“I think it shows unity,” Budnik said. “We like to make people aware that we are active parts of the community, and we think this is important.”
Budnik said the group passed out fruit snacks and Teddy Grahams to children along the parade route to “keep it as healthy as possible” amidst all the candy.
Others found the parade as a time to share political views and reach out to voters.
Martin Graber, chairman of the Lee County Republicans, said the group has a long history of participating in parades, including the Montrose Watermelon Festival parade and labor day parades approaching.
“We think it is good to have public awareness number one,” Graber said. “And we hand out flags trying to get some kind of gift to people so they remember. Just promoting the Republican cause and Republican values.”
Other members of the group, as well as representatives from the Lee County Young Republicans, joined him on the float decorated with miniature American flags and a large cut-out of President Donald Trump.
One block over, Diane Kearns, secretary of the Lee County Democrats, sat in the back of a pick-up truck preparing for the parade to begin. She was joined by board of supervisor members Ron Fedler, Gary Fulluo and Rick Larkin.
“We certainly want to have a presence in the parade and for people along the route to see us,” Kearns said. “And if they want to contact us for issues that they have or concert they know who they can contact.”
An especially sparkly parade float carried Madison Mohrfeld of West Burlington, who was crowed the Sweet Corn Festival Queen on Thursday, and Diamond Garcia, who was crowned princess.
Mohrfeld said she was excited to represent the community, as well as serve as a role model to those like Garcia sitting next to her
Mohrfeld said she loves the parade and the way the community comes together.
“I’ve never missed a corn festival in my life,” Mohrfeld said.