Oakley, Kansas, hosted the 39th annual National Corn Husking Contest on Oct. 15-17 with more than 100 huskers from around the country participating. Winning the men’s open class was returning champion Frank Hennenfent of Smithshire, Illinois, while Nancy Miller of Manchester, Illinois, grabbed the trophy for her first time in the women’s open.
Once the largest sporting event in the world that attracted crowds of more than 140,000 before the U.S. entered WWII, competitive corn husking made national heroes out of ordinary farmers with extraordinary picking skills. The sport died at the onset of the war, but was revived in Oakley in 1971 and has continued ever since.
Today, competitive corn picking is still done with mules and horses pulling wagons as huskers pick corn from the stalks and toss the ears through the air. A judge times each contestant while a gleaner follows behind and picks up ears of corn the picker missed. The pickers are penalized for missed ears or excessive husks.
A slideshow of this year’s contest appears below.