Down Home LA: Corn festival king

The famous corn in Bunkie!
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BUNKIE, La. (KALB) - According to Tiffany Tuminello, a volunteer, the “sweetest corn” is in Bunkie. Due to that belief, for one weekend a year, all eyes, and of course ears, are turned to the small town in Avoyelles Parish for the Louisiana Corn Festival.

This year’s 30th anniversary of the festival brought with it enough exposure to make any fair goer say “Aw shucks!”

In addition to setting a new world record – Shucking 35 ears of corn in one minute’s time, the festival reached back to its roots.

Haas Whittington served as this year’s Grand Marshal and led the festival parade on Saturday morning. It’s not the first time Haas has been in the Bunkie spotlight, however. 30 years ago, he helped plan the inaugural festival and even served as its original Grand Marshal.

“It was a lot smaller then than it is today,” said Whittington in his Grand Marshal attire. He was also the individual responsible for naming the festival after Bunkie’s most abundant crop. “We just took off from there.”

Walking around the festival with the 83 year-old Whittington and his extensive family of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who affectionately call him “Paw-Paw Hayes,” it’s as if you’re in the company of royalty, which would make sense considering he was also named the “Corn Festival King.”

Countless amounts of Bunkie residents came up to the VIP saying “if this wasn’t for you, this would have never happened,” a belief shared among the current volunteer festival staff.

Bunkie has already set the date for next year’s festival. Mark your calendars for June 8-10 for the 31st annual “Corn-ival.”