The small town of Olathe likes to celebrate hot summer days by spooning savory butter by the barrel. With kernels stuck between your teeth, there is no better way to enjoy its famous sweet corn than to smother it in butter, making sure it drips down your chin and into your hand.
This is a pretty frequent scene in Olathe, the corn capital of Colorado. But on one day each August, the town’s Sweet Corn Festival offers visitors a unique glimpse into this close-knit agricultural community. Come hungry and in the mood for corn, because in a mere 12 hours, 70,000 ears of corn and 500 pounds of butter are consumed.
Corn is a quintessential side to a summer meal, and it doesn’t get any better in Colorado than Olathe Sweet Corn.
“Olathe is so close that their corn (is) fresh, and it’s about as sweet a corn as you can possibly imagine, or buy,” says Armand Lobato, produce merchandiser for Boulder’s Sunflower Market.
Bobbi Sale, who has been with the festival for 16 of its 17 years, says that there are two things that attract people to the festival: Corn, which is all you can eat, and music. This year’s headliner is Travis Tritt.
The festival began in 1992 as a way to showcase that the town of Olathe was thriving because of its treasured kernels. Sale says that they continue to hold the festival to prove that.
“We are a small rural farming town, but we are successful and this festival is a celebration of our community,” Sale says.
Olathe, located in Montrose County, has a population around 1,600 and a climate befitting of the Western Slope—warm, dry summer days followed by cool, crisp evenings. The temperature differentials—90s by day, 60s by night—makes the local corn super sweet and unbelievably tender.
Needless to say, the town is proud of its prized crop. “We want people to come in and see how we live, and share our lives with them for a day,” Sale says.
Sale likes to take it all in—the corn, the people, the music, the family entertainment—from above.
“I have a spot I go to that is above the festival where I can sit and look down at the party and see how much fun everyone is having,” Sale says about her favorite part of the festival.
Savoring everyone’s enjoyment is her favorite part of the festival—well, almost. She still loves to sop up the butter and devour an ear of corn like the rest of us.
OLATHE SWEET CORN FESTIVAL
Aug. 1-2, Olathe