Driven indoors for a week by a triple-digit heat wave, locals emerged from their air-conditioned homes by the thousands last weekend, flocking to City Park for some slightly cooler temperatures and the 2008 edition of the Brentwood CornFest.
I thought we would be toast, Brentwood's Dawn Copeland said as she enjoyed the cool breeze just prior to the Friday night fireworks. We really caught a major break with the weather.
Official numbers were not available as of Wednesday, but Harry York, CEO of the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the event, said attendance was up from last year's 40,000, despite the increase in admission prices from $6 to $10.
It cost us $30 just to get in, but that's not so bad when you think about it, said Nancy Parker as she and her husband Charlie watched their son Chad, 8, and daughter Darla, 6, enjoy a romp in the Kids Zone. It's going to cost you $50 just in gas to go anywhere even near here. Why not spend the money here on corn-on-the-cob and beer instead of pumping out the tailpipe of my car?
ore than 10,000 on Friday alone apparently agreed, and packed City Park for the highly anticipated fireworks show. They were not disappointed.
I heard nothing but raves about the fireworks for the next two days, said York.
Although temperatures on Saturday and Sunday were in the 90s, it was still at least 10 degrees cooler than earlier in the week, and people continued to turn out for the fun and see their friends. York said he saw a lot of kids greeting one another as though they were long-lost friends.
This was the first time they'd seen each other since school let out, he said. It was like a (class) reunion.
On Saturday, visitors gnawed on ears of corn while wandering past the gleaming paint and chrome of the car show, and quaffed smoothies as they spent generously at the auction.
On Sunday, they cheered KRON chef Joey Altman as he first helped judge the cooking contest, then showed off his own skills in a special cooking demonstration. On both days, music ranging from reggae to rock to rhythm and blues kept the people coming and tapping their toes.
The bands are really good this year, said Katherine Jacoby on Saturday. Nearby, her 7-year-old son Jack hurled one of his sandals at a beach ball that had gotten stuck in a tree. Public Eye (which played just before the fireworks Friday) was great, and so was Lovin' Spoonful. (Jacoby said she hoped to return Sunday after a trip to the store for new sandals for Jack, who lost one to the same tree that snagged his beach ball.)
York, who as the new top chamber official was involved with the CornFest for the first time, said he hoped the event would match the $50,000 donated to local charities last year. To him, the nonprofits who work the festival are key to the entire event.
One of the big things about the CornFest is the community effort and the thousands of volunteers, he said. That giant community effort is what makes it all happen.
York said that planning for next year has already begun, although the festival might need to find a new home. Construction of the new Civic Center, which includes an overhaul of City Park, could be well underway by next July, meaning the biggest annual bash in Brentwood would need to move, at least temporarily.
I'm already looking at alternative sites, York said.