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The long line that formed at the Union Mills Homestead on Saturday was greeted with sunshine and blue skies, the smell of freshly roasted chicken, and sweet notes of music from the band Gravy that floated on the air and energized the crowd.

The ticket line moved steadily toward the goal of a roasted chicken meal with all-you-can-eat corn roasted in the husk atop old-fashioned cookers. It was the Union Mills Homestead’s 49th annual Old Fashioned Corn Roast.

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Last year was the first year in its history that the corn roast had to be cancelled due to flooding. But this year, sunshine was the star.

Rebecca Bires of Baltimore said her boyfriend Wade Myers suggested they come. He grew up in Littlestown, Pennsylvania, and had been to many corn roasts in the past. His recommendation did not disappoint.

“This corn is sweet and delicious and so good. We will do this again,” Bires said of the annual event, which is jointly hosted by the Union Mills Homestead Foundation and the Silver Run – Union Mills Lions Club.

Catherine Scruggs of Fredericksburg, Virginia, also spoke of the flavorful corn.

“No matter what year it is, it is always the best corn I’ve ever had,” Scruggs said. “It’s fresh, it’s sweet and the way that it’s roasted, it gives it such a unique, nutty flavor.”

Scruggs, a Shriver descendent, said her mother grew up across the road from the Union Mills Homestead at Chinquapin Hill. She’d brought a large group along, including her mom, her kids and other relatives.

“I wouldn’t miss it,” she said, noting that she has only missed a few since she was a child.

“I was 5 years old for my first one, and I’ve only missed one or two in all these years. I can remember sitting under the table when I was little, eating corn. I know they picked the first Saturday in August all those years ago because the Farmer’s Almanac said it was the weekend that was most likely to not rain,” she said with a laugh.

And the rain held off after all. Attendance had topped 1,000 people by 1 p.m. and was expected to surpass 2,000 by evening.

Allan Chrest, president of the Silver Run – Union Mills Lions Club, said they were prepared, with 850 dozen freshly picked ears delivered by Baugher’s early that morning.

“The weather has been excellent,” Chrest said. “We couldn’t ask for anything better. The humidity is low, the turnout is fantastic, and we are looking to have one of our best corn roasts ever.”

Union Mills Homestead’s director, Jane Sewell, took a break from her work to say it was one of the biggest crowds she’d seen at this event.

“It’s a beautiful day and what a wonderful relief from last year’s cancellation. The chicken smells fabulous, the corn looks fabulous and we are absolutely thrilled,” she said.

Theressia Shoop of Westminster was one of the many people disappointed with the 2018 cancellation, but she was back to try again.

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“I saw it advertised last year and was really excited to come,” she said. “Then I saw that it was flooded out and cancelled. I wanted to give it another try because it is so close to home, and I love corn.”

Her husband, Walter Shoop, said he was 100% game.

“The best part of this is simply doing it with her,” he said of his wife. “She always goes to crab feasts for me even though she doesn’t eat crabs, so I am here with her for her ‘crab feast!’ "

Kim Lind of Littlestown said they don’t usually eat corn, but then again, this was not ordinary corn.

“It’s the corn,” her husband, Michael Lind said of why they were attending again this year.

“My favorite thing about the corn roast is everything,” Kim said. “The people, the Homestead, the corn… We don’t eat corn anywhere else. We only eat corn here.”

The long line continued throughout the day and into the early evening, with crowds shifting in and out again. In the tannery building, crafters sold their wares. There was jewelry and artwork, and even homemade jams and jellies. The blacksmith was in, doing demonstrations, and the house and mill were open for tours. Volunteers served chicken and drinks while Lions Club members stoked the stoves and hosed down rows of corn laid atop the stoves to cook, covered with burlap and steaming in their own sweet juices.

Ryan Baty joined other Scouts from Boy Scout Troop 733 of Winfield in carrying trays of corn to the tables, nestled under 100-year-old hickory and sycamore trees.

“It was pretty fun serving the corn,” he said. “The trays were kind of hot, but it was good,” he said.

Robert Thomas said he grew up in the area and remembers past corn roasts. This year he traveled in from Falling Waters, West Virginia, coming home just for the corn roast.

“The corn is delicious,” he said. “Just awesome."

Stephanie Krouse of Reisterstown agreed. It was her second corn roast. She was there with friends and a total of seven children between them. When she asked the kids how they all liked the corn, they enthusiastically answered in unison. “Good!” they said.

“Yes,” Knouse said. “It’s the best corn I’ve had all year!”

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