Aug. 4 marks 48 sweet years for Old-Fashioned Corn Roast

Aug. 4 marks 48 sweet years for Old-Fashioned Corn Roast
Briella and Natalina Spigarelli, of Reston, Virginia, enjoy the corn at the Old-Fashioned Corn Roast Festival at the Union Mills Homestead in 2017. This year's event is set for Aug. 4, beginning at 11 a.m.

The annual Corn Roast Festival at Union Mills Homestead scheduled for Saturday has been cancelled. In a Thursday, Aug. 2 media release, the organization cited excessive rain and washed out grounds as the reason for cancelling the event, the first time it has been called off in 48 years.

Donations to the “Corn Roast Flood Fund” to help offset the loss of this major fundraiser can be made online at


For more information, call 410-848-2288 or send email to

Saturday, Aug. 4, will mark 48 years of sweet corn at Union Mills Homestead, with the return of the Old-Fashioned Corn Roast Festival.

From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., $14 a person will get you a fried chicken quarter, applesauce, tomatoes, buttered roll, a drink and all the roasted Carroll County sweet corn you can eat, with proceeds going to benefit the Homestead and Silver Run Union Mills Lions Club, according to Homestead Executive Director Jane Sewell.

“We split the proceeds,” she said. “Half of the proceeds go the Lions; the other half go to the preservation and restoration of the homestead.”

Payment is by cash or check at the gates the day of the event.

There will also be craft vendors and a snowball/ice cream truck on site offering wares for an additional sum, Sewell said. Live music, by local band Gravy, will be free all day, she said.

The event, though sensitive to weather, has grown in recent years, according to Sewell, with 2017 being something of a breakout.

“It has gotten so popular. We had a little over 2,000 people last year, which is a record for this event,” she said. “According to the Lions Club, we cooked just over 800 dozen ears of corn. The weather was perfect.”

Sewell hopes the recent rainy weather will clear out before the day of the corn roast, giving the ground time to dry and accommodate parking cars. She also suggested that people check the homestead’s facebook page — — the day of the event, since summer storms can be somewhat local.

“There have been years where it never rained in Union Mills, but it was raining in Manchester or Hampstead or Sykesville and people said, ‘I’m not going,’ ” Sewell said.

But in almost 50 years, in weather fair or foul, the corn roast has rolled on, according to Jim Shriver, whose family founded the homestead in 1797.

“The idea for the corn roast came from the fact that the family always had a watermelon and corn frolic to celebrate a good harvest and plentiful summer,” Shriver said. “We picked up on that idea knowing that sweet corn is well grown in Carroll County. It seemed natural.”

Given that the Silver Run-Union Mills Lions Club operated a park next to the homestead, Shriver said, it seemed natural to invite them into the event, and the club was able to help develop the labor intensive process of roasting the corn.

“We experimented with ways of cooking it, and we came up with cooking it in the husks on the iron stoves,” Shriver said. “They became experts in cooking corn.”


“We have these cast-iron cookers, and we put wood in them and we get them hot,” Silver Run Union Mills Lions Club President Alan Chrest said of the cooking process. “We put the corn on top, cover it with burlap, and then wet it down and roast the ears. Then we turn it, do the same thing again, and then off it comes.”

Chrest is up at the homestead by 5:30 a.m. the day of the roast to get the four, large cast-iron cookers going, and the 15 club volunteers typically go through more than 700 dozen ears of corn during the event.

“It’s quite something,” Sewell said. “The husk just comes right off and the silk comes with it and you have gorgeous ear of corn.”

It’s an experience that has garnered a lot of fans, Chrest said, and not just locals.

“We have people come from Virginia, West Virginia; we have people that come almost every year. They spend a weekend in Carroll County,” he said. “It’s always the first Saturday in August, so they know when it is and we have a lot of repeat customers.”

“It’s a very friendly event,” Shriver agreed. “It’s a great family event, and a time for many people to catch up with old friends and have a enjoyable afternoon — great corn and great food.”