Hampshire fest group gets new officials, seeks volunteers
By Denise Moran For The Courier-News February 28, 2013 3:50PM
Hampshire Coon Creek Country Days Committee member Nils Von Keudell reminds parade goers last year of the fest’s 4001 free ears of boiled sweet corn. Sun-Times Media file photo
Updated: April 2, 2013 6:23AM
HAMPSHIRE — The annual Hampshire Coon Creek Country Days will celebrate its 31st anniversary Aug. 1 to 4 at Bruce Ream Park along Terwilliger Avenue.
The annual summer event includes food vendors, a beer tent, musical entertainment, fireworks, a parade, corn boil, arts and crafts, and carnival rides.
About 10 years ago, a few village residents realized that if they did not make an effort to improve the festival, it would go the way of Twinkies and typewriters.
Three of those villagers announced this week that they are stepping down from their positions on the fest committee.
“I originally volunteered because the fest was in disarray,” said Carl Palmisano. “There were many safety issues, such as wires under water. I wanted to make the fest safer, friendlier and more fun.”
Palmisano started out as a fest committee member and moved up to serve as the vice president. He served the last two years as the committee treasurer.
Scott Almquist served as the committee’s president for eight years and as vice president for the past two years.
“Everyone needs to support their community,” he said.
Joanne Petersen has served on the committee for nine years. She most recently held the position of secretary.
“It’s a lot of work,” Petersen admitted, “but it’s personally rewarding.”
The event lost two of its staunchest supporters in 2011 with the deaths of Maynard Petersen, 92, and Randy Luchtman, 58. Petersen, one of the founders of the fest, brought his 1914 Minneapolis steam engine every year to boil free sweet corn for festgoers. His son, Les, is continuing the tradition. Luchtman, who was involved with the fest from 2003 to 2011, would take a week off work every year to serve as the event’s on-site manager.
While Palmisano, Almquist and Petersen have left their positions, three other Hampshire residents have volunteered to take their place.
The committee announced its 2013 committee officers this week. Don Edmonson will continue as the president-coordinator. Tina Robison will serve as the vice president. Nils von Keudell will handle the responsibilities of secretary. His wife, Connie, will serve as treasurer.
“I’m excited,” Connie von Keudell said. “The fest has grown over the years. I want it to continue to grow. I’m proud to serve Hampshire and, in particular, the Burlington-Hampshire Area Food Pantry.”
The fest is run by a non-profit organization whose primary beneficiary is the food pantry. Last year, the committee presented the food pantry with a $7,500 donation.
Edmonson said this year’s fest is in need of more volunteers.
“We’re looking for people to step up and coordinate the things that need doing,” he said. “We meet once a month. It’s a commitment, but it’s also a lot of fun and very fulfilling.”
Palmisano, Almquist and Petersen all plan to still help out at the event this year.
“It’s been a pleasure serving on the committee,” Petersen said. “I hope that other people will volunteer.”
The committee’s next meeting is slated for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, at Hampshire Professional Center, 895 S. State St.
More information is at www.hampshirecooncreekcountrydays.com.