The old house practically smells of it, a sort of strong, musky scent that lies on one’s tongue.
You close the door behind you and look around. Nobody has lived in this house for years and a thick coat of dust covers everything.
And there it is, this elusive smell of corn, permeating the entire atmosphere of the house. There are wooden corn figures, lovingly cut and hand-painted, baskets woven from corn leaves, and old sepia pictures of men and women laughing and cheering on festivals. Corn has a long tradition in your family. It is interwoven with your history, deeply connected with every aspect of the last 5 generations of your people. But your dad had split from his family to make a living of his own in the city. He had never liked the country life and after meeting your mother, he never returned to the simple and hard work on the field.
But now you are here.
Your grandmother, who has been living in a retirement home for the last few years, had recently decided to give over the keys to the old family farm to your father. He seemed disinterested, but you took a liking to the idea of a farm and being financially stable, and bored, you asked for the keys from your dad. Without much care, he handed them over to you and with his characteristic sarcastic snicker, he asked whether you would bring back the corn festival.
The corn festival. Such an ominous and imposing word. The traditional festivity held by your family at the end of harvest. You flip through some of the dusty photo albums, the yellowed pages barely holding together. Many pictures from the corn festival, some from before your father was born. The photos show many people, dressed in the practical style of country living, gathered about large cut fields of corn, eating, drinking, and playing silly games. Their figures are blurry in the old photographs, but you can see the cheer and happiness on their faces.
The corn festival. You look around in the dingy, old, and empty house. Yes, you think to yourself, you will bring back the corn festival.
A couple of months pass.
It has been a lot of uphill battling. Some expected bumps in the road, some rather surprising. Like the farmers of neighboring fields complaining about the noise or the town’s major being worried about the trash. But you got most of these things figured out without much trouble. The biggest problem was how to secure the actual main ingredient: corn. All the equipment, while old, was still there, but the fields of your family have been barren for so long that much of the corn didn’t even grow properly. But with the help of Dave, a neighboring farmer who knew your granddad, you finally were able to reach the amount of corn you think you will need for the festival. You made big plans, organized all sorts of merchants and booths, and were looking both eagerly and timidly toward the big day.
And then it started raining.
For three days now, the sky has opened all its reservoirs and is pouring it all onto the earth. The news speak of flood danger, Dave grumpily talks of similar great rain that had ruined a corn festival of your great-granddad, when Dave was just a little boy. You sit alone in the old house of your family, now clean and homely, but still somehow strange to you, even after many months and the visits of your parents and your grandma. You hear the rain drum rhythmically and heavily on the roof and as you look out of the windows into the cold night, you wonder, if this was a good idea. It hasn’t been cheap, and it certainly hasn’t been easy so far. Even if the rain stops, who is to say that the festival will be a success? It’s been almost three decades since your granddad held the last corn festival before he passed away. Who knows whether people will even remember what the corn festival used to be? Full of doubts and fears you go to bed.
You barely sleep that night.
On the day of the festival, you rise wearily from your mattress and are greeted with an unusual sound. The singing of a bird instead of the constant crescendo of rain. You step outside on the front porch, finding the world bathed in the cold freshness that follows heavy rain. Everything is dripping and green. But over the horizon rises a warm sun and the sky is as blue as it can get. You rush inside to call Dave and get everything ready for the festival.
Now it is your job to manage everything and make this corn festival the greatest celebration anyone has ever seen!