National Corn Husking competition returns to Nebraska

A contest at the 2018 Nebraska State corn husking contest tosses and ear into the wagon. This year, the state will host the national competition Oct. 20 in Gothenburg.

The modern day combine changed the way corn is harvested. Most say it improved economics and the scale of farms, reduced labor needs and likely improved quality of life for those laborers, but with that advancement a piece of American history was almost lost.

Today the National Cornhusking Competition keeps the tradition alive.

This year’s contest will piggy-back on the 2019 Nebraska State Hand Cornhusking Competition, the pair slated for Oct. 19 to 20, near Gothenburg.

Hand cornhuskers will travel from nine states to vie for top honors in age brackets ranging from youth to “golden agers.”

“There are only a few still competing that actually picked corn by hand growing up, but it is so fun to watch those guys come back. Then they’ve passed on their enthusiasm,” said Helen Cool, president of the National Cornhusking Association. “Many have just fallen in love with the sport because it’s a chance to imagine the stamina it took be involved in agriculture before modern machinery.”

Competitors pick for a set amount of time, then their harvest is weighed and deductions taken for debris.

“The contest mimics the things that would have been important back in previous decades: picking corn fast, picking corn clean,” Cool said.

There is a novice division, and newcomers can try the sport for free.

In addition to watching the horse drawn wagons and the cornhusking competitors in action, there will be food and craft vendors and family activities. Antique farm equipment will be on display, with demonstrations, such as corn shelling, threshing and stationary baling.

Both day’s opening ceremonies start at 9 a.m., with competition beginning shortly thereafter.

“If you’ve never tried it, there’s no better time to learn how,” Cool said. “Or just come to spend the day watching the action.”

If you are interested in sponsoring the event, volunteering, vending or competing, there’s something for everyone, she added.

“This sport is a piece of national history and our agriculture legacy," Cool said. "It's exciting to be part of it.”

For more information, call the Gothenburg Chamber office at 308-537-3505 or visit their website at