MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Fort Gibson

July 2, 2013

Corn festival helps fund soccer fields

— Proceeds from the annual Fort Gibson Corn Festival have helped fund the a new sports complex for the last five years.

This year’s festival  helped put the goals on the soccer fields.

Debby Daniels, the town clerk, said the goals would cost around $28,000.

“The soccer club is down here helping us out this year,” Daniels said. “So, the proceeds are going to them.”

The town has seen more than its share of difficulties in getting the sports complex started, but now the project is moving forward with land development, construction and plans for the soccer fields that will provide a bigger area for Fort Gibson’s ever-expanding soccer clubs.

Jeff Stach, the president of the soccer club, said the complex will give the kids of Fort Gibson something to do.

“We have a strong soccer program right now,” Stach said. “This will help us out even more. We’re hoping the fields will give us a few more chances to host bigger games and even some tournaments. Right now we have 500 kids in the club, and it grows each year.”

Stach, whose family also cooked succotash all day on Saturday, also said the Corn Festival was started to help benefit the complex because the sales tax revenues are the “lifeblood of a community.”

“I don’t look at the festival as benefiting us personally too much,” Stach said. “I just enjoy being out here with the community and seeing the faces. It ultimately benefits the kids.”

Around 2,000 people visited the Corn Festival this year, which is on par with previous years. The steady draws are the vendors, the live music, and of course the corn shucking and eating contests, which are popular with people of all ages.

Mike Taylor, the chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee, said although the festival was created to help with the complex, it will be the last year all the proceeds benefit it specifically.

“I think this will benefit the many kids in our soccer club,” Taylor said. “We’re a small town that cares about its young people. We want to give our kids something that keeps them out of trouble and away from crime.”

Taylor also said there are a few new plans in the works for next year’s festival.

“We’re going to try to incorporate a three-on-three soccer tournament as well as a mud volleyball tournament,” he said. “I think this festival gets people over here and shows them how we pull together as a community.”

Reach Travis Sloat at (918) 684-2908 or tsloat@ muskogeephoenix.com.

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