Corn meal a treasured tradition at annual Thresher Reunion
BY DENNY SCOTT
For over 30 years Gary Courtney has been responsible for what diners call one of the most delicious and memorable meals at the annual reunion of the Huron Pioneer Thresher and Hobby Association.
The annual corn roast, typically held on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights of the reunion, marks years of tradition and getting things just right according to Courtney and his wife Chris. Corn is typically available near dusk.
The corn roast has been a consistent part of the reunion for over three decades, according to Gary, who said that in the first year they went through about 130 dozen cobs of corn, the same amount they continue to cook.
“People say that you just can’t get corn that tastes so good anywhere else,” Chris said in a recent interview. “They say there is just nothing like it anywhere.”
Preparing the meal is really a family affair for the Courtneys. Gary and Chris’s grandchildren are involved and, as Gary explains, his son Nick is his go-to for help with the event.
Part of what makes the corn so unforgettable, they say, is the time Gary spent finalizing the recipe. In previous interviews, he pointed to the fact that he didn’t know right away how to cook the corn, so it took a few years to get the recipe and the process just right. He said he would be passing that knowledge on to whoever eventually takes over for him.
Part of that recipe is having the freshest corn he could find, he said, attributing its quality to the fact that the corn is brought in fresh every day before it gets cooked in his unique way.
Traditionally, the corn has come from the Pullen family farm near Clinton.
Whatever the rest of the ingredients are (beyond the more than one dozen pounds of butter and half a dozen boxes of salt) must be the best ingredients available because, not only has it continued to bring crowds back year after year to line up and wait for their turn at the corn, it has also netted Courtney a nickname: Kernel Courtney.
“The Kernel” has been attending the reunion since the early 1970s after he was invited to go (and declined) by his then-boss Alex Manning. Eventually he would become president of the organization in 1988/1989.