Broom Corn brings hundreds to Arcola

2013-09-09T06:30:00Z Broom Corn brings hundreds to ArcolaBy KAYLEIGH ZYSKOWSKI - H&R Staff Writer Herald-Review.com
September 09, 2013 6:30 am  • 

ARCOLA — Dale Yoder of Yoder’s Homestead Shop has been on Main Street longer than the revitalized Broom Corn Festival has occurred, and he says each year the fest gives his shop a boost.

“It’s always a good weekend, and we’ve been here since the beginning,” Yoder said about the three-day fest.

The 43rd celebration brought several highlights to town including the Budweiser Clydesdales for the parade on Saturday and The Henningsens, who performed Sunday. And though the tradition stays with the fest, Yoder said he’s noticed a shift in several key portions including the vendors.

During the early years, the Yoders brought their steamer from Rockome Gardens, which they owned at the time, and demonstrated how they made butters and other food items. However, now food vendors line the street with no shortage of treats and meal options, he said.

Yoder said despite the increase in foot traffic at the shop at 117 E. Main St., he keeps the same hours, but has a few more employees on hand to help with the crowd.

One of the driving forces behind the crowds flocking to town for the celebration is the number of vendors who set up shop for three days along the street. However, Yoder said he’s noticed that over the years, the guest vendors have changed slightly.

“It used to be a lot of homemade items and products, and now a lot of it is ordered by the vendors,” he said. “You don’t see many handmade items anymore. I guess people’s tastes have just changed.”

My Favorite Things owner Regina Considine of Mattoon said the festival is comparable to the sales the store will see during the holiday season, but compacted into three days.

“The exposure alone is wonderful,” Considine said. “A lot of times, the store will get too crowded, and we’ll have people call back later about items that caught their eye.”

A tradition at the festival is the broomcorn tent where a live demonstration showed guests how the broomcorn is threaded to create brooms. The display also showcased the national broom making contest entries where a broom with a wishbonelike handle named “Togetherness” won to honors. The craftsman sent in her entry from Mountain View, Ark.

“We’ve had a steady crowd, really,” Louis Turner said Saturday at the broom tent.

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Around mid-week, the women at Olde Brick Wall at 122 E. Main St., saw an increase in customers at the shop, employee Cindy Williams said.

“Saturday was tremendous,” Williams said estimating that close to 1,000 patrons came through the door.

The crew started prepping the store several weeks prior to the festival, which opened Friday afternoon. The store was decorated with Halloween and fall features.

“We do see repeat customers who come back or call in to ask questions about things they saw while they were here,” she said.

Williams, an Arcola native, is a seasonal employee who helps out during the busiest times of the year — during the Broom Corn Festival and the Christmas holiday.

My Favorite Things owner Regina Considine of Mattoon said the festival is comparable to the sales the store will see during the holiday season, but compacted into three days.

“The exposure alone is wonderful,” Considine said. “A lot of times the store will get too crowded, and we’ll have people call back later about items that caught their eye.”

Even locals stop in for the first time during the fest. Considine said an Arthur resident came in, and was shocked she’d never been to the store at 124 E. Main St. during its 20 years of business.

Turner, who has helped with festival for nearly as long as it’s existed, tied up a “spider” broom for sale at the tent. He said the most popular style of broom changes ever year. He also noted that the cooler weather on Saturday made the day more pleasant.

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