Illinois Corn Husking

The Illinois Cornhusking Association sponsors old time corn husking contests annually in the fall to celebrate the history and heritage of farming and harvesting corn crops in the state of Illinois. Illinois farmers and the corn they grow and pick help feed the world.

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.

Illinois 2023 State Cornhusking Contest

Sunday, Ocotber 1st, 2023 at the Mike Hennenfent Farm, 1063 30th Street, Smithshire, Illinois.

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

If the contest is postponed, canceled, or the location is changed it will be posted on this website or at

Rules for qualifying corn huskers for the 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 the Illinois State CornHusking President, Dick Humes at 309-729-5261 or email

Illinois 2023 Corn Husking Contest Registration and Regulations 

Illinois State Previous Cornhusking Results

2012  2013  2014  2015  2016  2017  2018  2019  2020  2021  2022  2023 

The 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.

1992 Old Timers Results 

Illinois President Dick Hume

Old time husking in Ohio with draft horses.

Frank Hennenfent, winner of the state and national contests for many years.

For more information contact the Illinois State CornHusking President, Dick Humes at 309-729-5261 or email