Mendota Sweet Corn Festival returns this weekend

Event to include live music, carnival, parade, craft show, diverse activities

One of Starved Rock Country’s longest-running annual gatherings, Mendota’s Sweet Corn Festival returns for its 74th year this weekend.

Held in downtown Mendota through Sunday, Aug. 15, the popular festival features a parade, carnival, food booths, craft show, flea market, beer garden, live entertainment and, of course, free sweet corn on Sunday, while supplies last.

The famed festival always takes place on the second weekend of August, with the exception of 2020 when it was placed on hold in light of COVID-19. Now, ready to make its triumphant return to the streets of picturesque downtown Mendota, this open-air festival promises to be a great weekend of family-friendly fun.

Windy City Amusements will stage a full-size carnival midway Aug. 12 to 15, complete with a carousel, Ferris wheel, Sizzler, zero-gravity ride and flying teacups, just to name a few of the many rides and attractions. A wide variety of carnival food vendors will be set along the midway, serving up all your favorite classics from yesteryear. The carnival is slated to run from 6 to 10pm Thursday, noon to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Unlimited ride passes will be sold at the Windy City Amusements ticketing booth.

Saturday’s festivities will include a Crafter’s Market Place and Flea Market, featuring over 200 talented crafters spread across two convenient locations in Mendota (downtown Veteran’s Park on Route 34 and the Elks Club parking lot on Indiana Avenue).

There will be free live magic and balloon art performed by Magic Matt throughout the day at various locations; a show by balloon artist Lica Lorraine at noon at Washington Street and Eighth Avenue; free face painting at noon, near the corner of Washington and Indiana Avenue; and three live magic and comedy performances by Mr. Steve at noon, 2 and 4 p.m. at Illinois Avenue and Jefferson Street.

You’ll also be treated to free musical performances by Nicodemus at 11 a.m. at the First State Bank Hospitality Tent; Steve Cirqua at 11:30 a.m at the First State Bank Stage; Matt & Kat at 3 p.m. at the First State Bank Stage; and Andrew Blomquist at 5 p.m. at the First State Bank Hospitality Tent. Close out your evening at the beer garden with a live performance by Eric Chesser at 7:30 p.m.

The Crafter’s Market Place and Flea Market continues from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The Jesse White Tumblers will give a free, high-flying performance in front of the Mendota Elks Lodge on Indiana Avenue from noon to 12:30 p.m. The highlight of the day, The Sweet Corn Festival Grand Parade, will step off at 1 p.m., featuring floats, bands, antique and classic vehicles, Shriners and further displays by The Jesse White Tumblers and South Shore Drill Team.

After the parade, be sure to stick around to try some of the festival’s legendary, namesake sweet corn, served hot and without charge at the intersection of Illinois Avenue and Jefferson Street, while supplies last.

For more information and a full schedule of events, visit