GOOD HOPE – The Illinois State Hulling Contest will be held Saturday, October 15 at Lewis Farm, 14241 N 1800th Rd, Good Hope. The national corn shelling competition will take place on Sunday, October 16 at the same location. Registration is at 8 a.m. and competition starts at 9 a.m. both days.
Organized corn shelling contests were started by Henry A Wallace, editor of Wallaces’ Farmers Magazine in 1922. Wallace later became the 33rd Vice President of the United States (1941 to 1945), Secretary of the Agriculture (1933 to 1940) and Secretary of Commerce (1945 to 1946). The competition to see who was the greatest corn sheller became more popular than other national sports.
In the original competitions of the 1920s, contestants had 80 minutes to pick the biggest load of corn. It was not uncommon for one person to be able to pick more than 100 bushels of corn a day, whereas 2,000 bushels an hour is normal for today’s combines. The first contest in Illinois was held in 1924.
In 1941, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the contest took a break, there was never a contest in 1942.
Henry Wallace decided to revive the old national competition in 1970. A group of people who had already won came together in 1970-71. They used a farm in Urbana and again established the rules, which each state adhered to.
Thirteen states participate in the national championships: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas and Nebraska.
Richard Humes, Illinois State chairman for the corn shelling competition, said they expect 200 to 300 people at the event this weekend. Three people from each of the 13 state classes will qualify for the national competition. According to Illinoiscornhusking.com, there are 12 classes: Girls Youth 10-14 – 10 minutes, Girls Youth 15-20 – 10 minutes, Boys Youth 10-14 – 10 minutes, Boys Youth 15-20 – 10 minutes, Women 75 and high – 10 minutes, Men 75 and over – 10 minutes, Women 21-49 – 20 minutes, Men 21-49 – 20 minutes and Men and women 50 and over – 20 minutes, and Men and women open – 20 minutes.
Contest time has gone from 80 minutes in the 1920s, so 10 and 20 minutes picking time for today’s event.
“You pick for so many minutes, you have to pick clean and not leave a lot of ears on the field,” Humes said. “Too many corn husks left on the corn will count against you. We’ll get big loads.
“The shelling contest is a place to find good friendship, some of the best people you’ll ever meet in your life,” he said. “We have extremely good pickers in Illinois. It’s like going to a family reunion.