Altoona Celebrates Historic Agricultural Milestone with CORNival

Altoona Arts & Culture Commission launches its largest art project in partnership with the Altoona Area Historical Society

Things are getting a little corny in Altoona as the community prepares to celebrate its connection to one of the biggest agricultural milestones of the last century. CORNival will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first acre of commercial hybrid seed corn in the U.S. being grown on a farm in Altoona. As a part of the celebration, a parade of 20 customized six-foot corn cob sculptures will sprout up across the city this summer (think Herky on Parade or CyclONE City, but “cornier”).

In 1923, Iowa State University organized a corn yield test. George Kurtzweil and his friend Henry A. Wallace (who later became the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and Vice President of the United States) grew their experimental yield on the Kurtzweil family farm in Altoona. While they didn’t win the yield test, the two of them signed the first-ever commercial contract for hybrid seed corn production in the U.S. This partnership would lead to the formation of the Hi-Bred Corn Company, which would later be renamed Pioneer Hi-Bred.

The search is on for artists to complete the 20 sculptures. Artists will be hired by the City of Altoona’s Arts & Culture Commission on a contractual basis and will receive a $2,500 honorarium for this project. Artists can learn more about how to submit their proposals in the call for artists on the City of Altoona’s website.

To make this a success, the Altoona Arts and Culture Commission is looking for sponsors to help fund the project. Businesses can get their own custom sculpture for $5,000, or support the project at various levels between $100 and $5,000. Sponsorships will help cover the costs of the 6-foot fiberglass sculptures and artist honorarium. Businesses or individuals interested in being a sponsor can email [email protected].

The sculptures will remain a city-wide showpiece of public art for years to come. In addition to the sculptures, multiple fun corn-themed events will take place across Altoona! The big kick-off celebration will take place July 4, 2023, with a ribbon cutting at Haines Park, after the Fourth of July parade. More event details will be released soon.