Illinois Corn Husking

Today corn is harvested with the aide of Global Positioning Systems, computers, and is a few years away from robotics. Seventy six years ago it was still being done with horses pulling the wagons, while a lone figure wearing a corn husking hook would pick two to three rows of corn at a time. With a musical like rhythm each ear was hooked, cleaned of husks and flipped into the wagon. From sun-up till sundown it was the time of the corn husker.

The organized corn husking contest was originated by Henry A. Wallace, an editor on the Wallaces' Farmer magazine , in 1922 as a way to demonstrate who was the best corn husker. When farmers gathered in 1922, tales were often told of a friend or neighbor who was an outstanding picker. Often, it was the last person to tell their story who pick the biggest load of corn. Picking over 100 bushels of corn a day, scooping it off, was considered normal for the good huskers. Picking 2000 bushels of corn an hour would be considered normal for some of the combines of today.

Leonard J. Jacobs wrote in his book Battle of The Bangboards. "Some hired men with a reputation for fast husking worked on the "single-pass" principle; if the ear didn't yield with one swift ripping jerk, it stayed behind on the stalk. Wallace, though, got to thinking of something else. Maybe if some of these fast huskers competed together in the same field, onlooking farmers could learn how to become better huskers themselves." Henry A Wallace was the 33rd Vice President of the United States (1941 to 1945), the Secretary of Agriculture (1933 to 1940), and the Secretary of Commerce (1945 to 1946).

The cornhusking contest was revived in 1970. There are 12 classes in today's contest. Contestants pick corn for 10 minutes to 30 minutes depending on the class they enter.

The 2000 Illinois State President, Dick Humes, timing for Hank Endress.

Hank was one of the four people to pick 50 bushels in an 80 minute contest during the 1940's.

2022 National and Illinois State Cornhusking Contest

Illinois Contest Saturday Ocotber 15th National Sunday, October 16th 2022

At the Lewis Farm south east of Good Hope, Illinois
14241 N 1800th RD Good Hope, Illinois

Registration will start at 8 AM and contest begins at 9 AM.

If contest is postponed or canceled it will be on the Illinois web site or Illinois Facebook page.

2022 National and Illinois State Cornhusking Contest Information

More information at

Qualifying Huskers For National Competition: A National Cornhuskers Association member state may select their slate of contestants to national competition in any manner agreeable to the state. A state contest, when possible, is strongly recommended. If poor weather or crop failure prevents a state from holding a national qualifying contest, the state may elect to send the preceding year's qualifiers to the national contest for one year only.

For more information contact Dick Humes , Illinois State President, at 309-729-5261 or Frank Hennenfent at

How to Pick Corn

There is an art to picking corn by hand. Bill Gillen and Bob St.George taught several people how to pick by hand. The links below give a short description about some of their techniques. There are many factors that determine how fast a person can pick. It is easier to go to a contest and watch a husker throw 35 to 50 ears a minute than to describe each move that makes them fast.

How to pick ears of corn that are upright on the stalk
How to pick ears of corn that are hanging down on the stalk
Where to buy hooks and pegs

There are a few books about the cornhusking contests. THE NATIONAL (1970 to 1999) and The Cornhusking Tradition (2000 to 2015) by Mitchel Burns are books about the modern cornhusking contests. Leonard J. Jacobs has written two books and several articles on the corn husking contest that took place from 1924 - 1941. The contest were 80 minutes in length during those years and crowds of 100,000 people or more would attend the National Contest. His two books are Battle Of The Bangboards, published in 1975 and Huskers Digest, published in 1998.

Illinois State Cornhusking Results

2000 Illinois State Contest Results
2001 Illinois State Contest Results
2002 Illinois State Contest Results
2003 Illinois State Contest Results
2004 Illinois State Contest Results
2005 Illinois State Contest Results
2006 Illinois State Contest Results
2007 Illinois State Contest Results
2008 Illinois State Contest Results
2009 Illinois State Contest Results
2010 Illinois State Contest Results
2011 Illinois State Contest Results
2012 Illinois State Contest Results
2013 Illinois State Contest Results
2014 Illinois State Contest Results
2015 Illinois State Contest Results
2016 Illinois State Contest Results
2017 Illinois State Contest Results

2019 Illinois State Contest Results

Illinois State Hall of Fame

National Championship
has the national results.
National Contest Rules
Cornhusking in the past
Bob St. George Memorial Award
Leota Kovachevich Memorial Award
Pee Wee Contest
National Corn Husking Museum
The 1939 State and National Contest
2005 Ten ears of corn for Ethanol

Corn related items.
Corn Items Collectors Association, Inc
Winter pictures of Draft Horses

If you need more information E-mail Frank at: