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'Corn Off the Cob' set for 18th annual harvest

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Vocalist Sheila Crowley performs backed up by the Fulda Area Big Band during "Corn Off The Cob" rehearsal Tuesday night at the Memorial Auditorium and Performing Arts Center in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- This year's Corn off the Cob variety show will feature a big sound and a fair share of familiar faces.

Corn Off the Cob 18, themed "Gonna Take a Sentimental Journey," will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in Worthington's Memorial Auditorium and Performing Arts Center.

The annual event is one of the auditorium's primary fundraisers.

This year's show will feature the Fulda Area Big Band, directed by Mike Peterson. Eleven musicians will take the stage to perform such old-time numbers "Birth of the Blues," "String of Pearls," "In the Mood," "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" and others. Additionally, a trio made up of pianist Liz Berger, bassist Galen Benton and drummer Steve Lynn will accompany several vocalists on songs.

Arlen Foss, who has been involved in each of the Corn Off the Cob productions -- writing scripts and participating -- described the set of this year's show prior to Tuesday night's rehearsal.

"The year is 1931, and we're celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Thompson Hotel in Worthington, which is also the year this auditorium was constructed," Foss said.

As usual, Foss added, Ole and Lena will show up in Worthington to add their unique senses of humor to the proceedings.

"I'm always eager to see how much they (actors) drop what I've written and what they add," Foss said with a laugh.

Besides the type of home-spun humor to which Corn Off the Cob audiences are likely accustomed, the event serves as a talent showcase for musicians from around the area.

Allen Jensen of Heron Lake, a regular in the yearly Gone Country fundraiser shows, will make his first Corn Off the Cob appearance.

"I'll be playing my guitar, and I'm going to be singing 'Little Brown Jug,' said Jensen, who will be accompanied by Steve Winters, Dave Ahrens and Larry Boernsen.

Jensen is no stage novice, as he said he performs weekly in Hinton, Iowa, and is going to Valentine, Neb., next week for a festival.

"My wife, Nancy, and I, we sing a lot in various places," he said. "In fact, we made a CD just a couple of weeks ago ... In Hinton, we met this songwriter from Sioux City ,who wrote a couple of songs we put on our CD. "

The Jensens recently performed at the annual National Traditional Country Music Association event, hosted this year in LeMars, Iowa.

"The songwriter -- Jack Langley -- he put us on stage nine times when he was up there, just because he wanted to give us the experience," Jensen said.

Another experienced performer, Eldon Larson of Fulda, will take part in his third Corn Off the Cob show. He's been in most of the Gone Country productions, he noted.

"On weekends, I perform with a rock 'n roll band, Starfire," said Larson, who will sing "Ain't She Sweet" and "The Old Lamplighter" in Corn Off the Cob. "This is a little different kind of music for me, but I'm a pretty quick study. Songs from the '30s and '40s are a little old for me, but this is just something different for me to do. Music has been pretty good to me over the years, so I just like giving something back."

Rick Nelson of Estherville, Iowa, took the stage at the last Gone Country event to sing Willie Nelson's "Stardust" and Waylon Jennings' "Good Hearted Woman." As a result, he won an important fan in Margaret Hurlbut Vosburgh, the auditorium's manager.

'"Stardust' is one of her favorite songs, and I didn't know that at the time," said Nelson, who will perform "Begin the Beguine" Friday and Saturday. "So, she asked me to sing here ... and I'm more than happy to."

Corn off the Cob 18 is being sponsored by Jim and Angie Mixner, Prairie Holdings Group and Worthington Federal Savings Bank, NA. Tickets (all seating is reserved) will be on sale from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today and Friday at the box office at the auditorium, which is located at 714 13th St. Tickets will also be sold at the door; they may also be purchased over the phone by calling 376-9101.

Ryan McGaughey

I first joined the Daily Globe in April 2001 as sports editor. I later became the news editor in November 2002, and the managing editor in August 2006. I'm originally from New York State, and am married with two children.

(507) 376-7320