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Sweet Corn Festival celebrates summer

Tracey Reisert and her son Jack, 3, came

Tracey Reisert and her son Jack, 3, came from South Hempstead to enjoy the barnyard fun and take a bite into one of summer's sweetest delights during the Harbes Sweet Corn Festival. (July 23, 2011) Photo Credit: Lisa Finn

Soaring temperatures did nothing to stop the scores of visitors who traveled from near and far to Harbes Family Farm in Mattituck for the one thing that epitomizes the taste of summer – sweet corn.

According to farm owner Ed Harbes, July was chosen for the Harbes Sweet Corn Festival, now in its fifth year, because it is the prime month for savoring the summer favorite.

“It’s really at the heart of the season – the time when sweet corn really shines,” he said.

With several thousand ears of corn at the ready for the two-day festival, Harbes said the process of ensuring sweet goodness involves sending a crew out early in the morning and refrigerating the corn, then bringing it out throughout the day as needed. Next, the corn is prepared in a special roaster and served dripping with butter.

Mesh bags, with a dozen or a half-dozen ears, are also available for take-home treats.

Harbes starting growing “super sweet” corn in 1989. Growing techniques involve choosing the right seed, as well as opting for a variety that promises flavor, rather than maximum yield.

“We want the kind of corn people will come back for, year after year,” he said. “Appearance is secondary to flavor.”

Long lines of hungry corn lovers were a testament to an event that has become a beloved tradition for many.

Toni Sweda and Joe Canelos traveled from Queens “just to get the corn,” Canelos said.

The event features a Barnyard Adventure, where little ones can interact with baby chicks, chickens, goats – and enjoy hay rides and pig races.

Harbes, a father of eight, said he and his wife, Monica, have always enjoyed family activities with their kids and hope to provide similar experiences for future generations.

“We don’t just grow crops,” he said. “We grow children.”

The Harbes Sweet Corn Festival continues Sunday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. For information and directions, visit harbesfamilyfarm.com.

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