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The Great Corn Show

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On this date in 1926, the second annual corn show began in the Bismarck auditorium. The show had been the cause of much excitement for the past few months. Numerous advertisements in the papers had touted the event’s entertainment, speakers, and vendors. There was hope that most, if not all, of the 53 ND counties would be represented at the show, fully displaying their support for the event.

On the day it began, more than 600 vendors had set up shop in the auditorium. Governor Arthur G. Sorlie opened the corn show, stressing how valuable corn was to North Dakota. He said it was important for farmers to learn about the different types of corn and how to handle them, predicting that one day, North Dakota would become a great corn raising state. He also introduced Senator Peter Norbeck of South Dakota, who launched into his own speech about unification and the power that the state holds in the federal government. He praised North Dakota for its wealth and opportunity, saying: “There are greater opportunities here than in industrial centers.”

The corn show continued with presentations from experts on topics such as how to pick good seed corn or what corn is best for livestock. Vendors sold food to show off the versatility of corn: corn fed beef, corn fritters, corn bread, corn mead pudding, cream of corn soup, and more.

Entertainers were also featured. There was an orchestra, a string quartet, singers, and even a comedian.

Offering some cultural diversity were exhibits from the local tribes. Members of the Arikara performed a corn planting ceremony believed to ensure a good crop. There was also an operetta, The Feast of the Red Corn, performed by 60 girls from an Indian school. People went home entertained and well-fed, taking with them knowledge that could help them succeed in farming.

This second annual corn show was a time for the people of North Dakota and beyond to come together and celebrate an important part of the economy. By all accounts, it was a huge success.

Dakota Datebook by Katie David


The Bismarck Tribune, Nov. 10, 1926

The Bismarck Tribune, Nov. 12, 1926

The Bismarck Tribune, Nov. 14, 1926

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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