Iowans celebrate corn at the Clay County Fair

Thursday, September 13, 2012
The Iowa Corn Association showcased at the Iowa Corn Day on Wednesday, in Central Park on the Clay County Fairgrounds. Visitors could walk through a corn maze, make play-dough using cornstarch, and learn more about the varied benefits of corn in American agriculture. (Photo by Kate Padilla)

Paul Emerick, a retired chemistry teacher and farmer, wants to spread the "whole story" about ethanol.

Emerick joined the Iowa Corn Association at the Clay County Fair's Iowa Corn Day to help inform fairgoers about the widespread benefits of corn within American agriculture and food.

Ethanol is created from ground and fermented corn, which turns into a liquid similar to moonshine. When the process began, ethanol was created from the surplus corn after the government loans finished.

A common conception is that the byproduct of ethanol, a granulated corn substance, is discarded. However, Emerick hopes to inform fairgoers that this byproduct, named dry distillers grains, is used as feed for cattle.

"Forty percent of corn is turned to ethanol," Emerick said, "and half of it comes back as feed."

In addition to Emerick's presentation, Iowa Corn Day hosted activities for every age. A corn maze was set up in the middle of the park, and kids could make play-dough using cornstarch, water, and food coloring.

"Farmers are used to producing corn," Dean Meyer, director of grower services in Lyon County, said, "but they're not used to promoting it."

Corn was featured in many different forms in Central Park, from ethanol and DDG to its most basic state on the stalks of the corn maze.

"There's a large segment of the population that's removed from farming, even in northwest Iowa," Chris Clark, a board member on the Sac Ida County local corn growers board, said. "We want to re-educate people on corn."

In addition to the activities, the Iowa Corn Association had a petition available to sign, supporting the renewable fuel standard introduced by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Members of the association who received a postcard in the mail could also receive a $5 appreciation coupon to either the Branding Iron or the Chop Shop, both located at the fair.

"Corn is a fantastic commodity," Clark said. "We're just here to promote its benefits."

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