|Like corn and butter, Cornfest parade marshals go great together|
|Written by Todd Mishler/Walworth County Sunday|
|Wednesday, 07 September 2011 14:48|
Phil and Phyllis Putman are this year’s Darien Cornfest parade grand marshals. The couple graduated from high school in Darien together in 1954. Todd Mishler/staff
(See the schedule in the e-edition HERE.)
DARIEN — Phil and Phyllis Putman are avid travelers, having visited all 50 states. However, they were born and raised in and have resided in southwestern Walworth County all of their lives.
So, it only seems fitting that the high school sweethearts, who’ve been married for nearly 57 years, were chosen to be grand marshals for this year’s Darien Cornfest parade.
After all, the 51st annual celebration is scheduled Friday through Sept. 11, and the Putmans have attended or been involved in the event almost every year. Thus, they and the festival have become part of the community’s heritage.
The Putmans agreed that the activities never grow old, and they are looking forward to their roles as grand marshals, although they had reservations at first about the title and accompanying extra attention.
“When Pattie Keyzer came over to the house back in February, at first I said no, then I said we’d think about it and then I said yes, all within a few minutes,” Phyllis said. “But Cornfest has been good for Darien. It’s important for a lot of people, and it’s nice that so many people still appreciate it. So it’s great that they’ve kept it going.”
Phil is a past president of the Community Club, which has been a sponsor and heavily involved with the festival, and he knows firsthand how people get excited about the annual gathering.
“I think it’s cool and a great honor,” he said of being grand marshal. “Cornfest has grown from a one-day deal to a three-day festival. There were something like 2,500 people at the Deaf Picnic (on Aug. 20), and I’d expect three or four times that many for Cornfest. There are always people everywhere. I can’t believe how big it is now.”
The festival has grown to become a key piece in the village’s history, and the Putmans have become an important part of that fabric that makes up Darien and the surrounding area.
Phil was born and raised in Darien, while Phyllis grew up on a farm outside of Allens Grove and graduated from eighth grade from the two-room Oakwood School. She came to Darien for high school, where Phyllis and Phil graduated in 1954 in a class of nine.
The couple raised six children and have 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. They are both retired, Phil spending 30 years of his working career at Iseli in Walworth, and Phyllis leaving Continental Plastic Corp. in Delavan in 2000 after 20 years.
They have kept busy and involved in numerous ways.
Phil is on the village board and has delivered Meals on Wheels, and he often can be seen riding his bicycle. Phyllis coordinates the Darien Food Pantry, belongs to the Darien Woman’s Club and is active in the United Methodist Church. She is the chief inspector for elections, and she is queen mother of her Red Hat group, the Ladies With Hattitudes.
They lived near Allens Grove for 43 years and have made Darien home since then.
“We’ve been all over, but we love living in Wisconsin,” said Phil, who tries to find time occasionally to work on his 1964 Cadillac convertible. “Darien is a nice place to live, and that’s why we built this house here four years ago.”
So there’s no need to worry: They’ll be around for Cornfest, which is held at West Park, located on Wisconsin Highway 14 in downtown Darien.
Activities will include softball, bingo, horseshoes, a tractor pull, a corn-eating contest, a carnival, milk chug, musical entertainment and, of course, the parade.
“You sometimes see people at Cornfest that you don’t see all year,” Phil said.
His wife agreed that Cornfest is a gathering place and way to keep in touch.
“Last year, a class from Delavan held their reunion at Cornfest,” she said. “We’ve only got four classmates still living, and one of them, Jim Krueger, is coming back this year from Oregon.
“Cornfest just means a lot of good fellowship.”
|Last Updated on Thursday, 08 September 2011 13:22|