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Zellwood Corn Festival

Zellwood, Florida is located in the northwestern corner of Orange County, Florida, about 30 miles from downtown Orlando. If you visit Orlando during May of any year, consider adding a trip to the Zellwood Corn Festival to your calendar of activities. Held each May on a varying schedule, the festival is often scheduled the last Friday, Saturday and Sunday in May (Memorial Day weekend). The hours are traditionally 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Calendars of each year’s events can be viewed online at www.zellwoodcornfestival.com. This festival offers tons of fun, good food, music, arts and crafts and even provides “misting tents” to allow people to cool off easily during the hot Florida spring. The misting tents are a favorite of the children visiting the corn festival.

Zellwood is located along Highway 441. In metro Orlando 441 is known as Orange Blossom Trail. We traveled to Orlando and then turned north on Orange Blossom Trail, traveling generally north/northwest. Passing through the suburban area of Altamonte Springs, we continue northwest into less populated terrain of small rolling hills. After passing through Plymouth and McDonald, much smaller towns, the road becomes open to the citrus and farming lands as we continue toward Zellwood. As we travel along US 441, we notice the Seaboard Coastal Line railroad is following along beside us.

The festival grounds are located at 4253 West Ponkan Road in Zellwood, which is the first exit we encounter marked “Zellwood”. Turning east onto West Ponkan Road, it is a very short trip to the festivities, which are well marked along the route. Zellwood is not a large town, and these festival grounds are located to the southeast of the small downtown area.

This Saturday, we arrive ready to try some freshly cooked, hot sweet corn. Zellwood’s main agricultural product is corn, second to citrus. The corn is grown by a single, huge farm, Long & Scott Farms, known world-wide for the best corn anywhere. The fresh corn is cooked 1,650 ears at a time in a huge cooker known as “Big Bertha”. Using 350 gallons of water, this machine submerges the corn into the boiling water and turns out perfectly cooked corn every single time and it only takes 9 minutes! Absolutely amazing that so much corn can be cooked so quickly and come out so sweet and tasty!

Some people dip their corn into melted butter, which is provided. We find the corn is so sweet that nothing is needed to enhance the flavor - not even salt. We do remember to stop after a couple of ears since corn is a very high fiber food and too much can cause an adverse digestive reaction or tummy ache!

Tickets to the event include a meal and all the fresh corn that you can eat during the day, but we never make it around to the full meal after filling up on fresh corn. Fresh corn is also available for purchase to take home and enjoy later.

The arts and crafts booths have some unique items. Some are made from corn husks and include corn husk dolls, baskets, weavings, corn cob pipes, just about anything you can imagine - and then some. The crafts are not limited to items made with corn, and some beautiful non-corn related arts and crafts are available for purchase. We thoroughly love browsing through the multitude of booths and talking to the artists.

Concerts by country and western, Christian and contemporary bands continue throughout each day of the festival. We listen to the music as we visit the wide variety of craft booths. There is seating available at the bandstand, but we don’t want to sit down and miss any of the things to see.

An antique car show and motorcycle show are part of the festival and we spend quite a lot of time wandering through leisurely. Some of the cars and bikes are magnificent and we take time for photos of the vehicles with their proud owners. The owners are, of course, more than willing to talk with us about their vehicles and the history of each. As car and motorcycle enthusiasts, this is a highlight of the trip for us.

While visiting the festival, we learn that Long & Scott Farms provides a fun fall Maize Quest, which is held in October during of the last harvest of the season. The event includes hay rides and tours of the farm facilities as well as a vast corn maze, and of course, corn to eat and corn to buy to take home. The maze is said to be quite challenging and tons of fun. A children’s maze, much easier for the children to find their way through, is available as well. This event is located on the farm at 26216 County Road 448A, Mount Dora, Florida and is only a few miles from the Zellwood area. We make a mental note to learn more about this event and attend in the fall because it sounds like such fun.

After buying a few souvenirs, including a t-shirt and a hand-crafted corn refrigerator magnet, we buy a bag of corn to take home with us. There are corn cookbooks for sale, which are certainly tempting, but we decide not to buy one on this trip. We conclude our wonderful, sunny day and head for home.

If you want to enjoy this fun festival for yourself, or visit the Maize Quest at the farm, you should check the exact schedule and ticket costs for the year you plan to attend. RV parking for the entire corn festival weekend is available at low cost. Tickets are quite affordable for the fun provided. No pets are allowed at the event, so you’ll need to make other arrangements if you plan to travel with your pet. Restroom facilities are easy to find, located throughout the event ground. Lodging and restaurants are readily available for those who wish to stay in Zellwood and attend more than one day of the event. Crafters who wish to sell their wares can apply and reserve space (there is a fee, of course). If you are staying in Orlando or other nearby locations, tour bus services provide trips to the Zellwood Corn Festival at a reasonable charge so that you don’t have to drive. Wheelchairs and handicapped “scooters” can easily navigate the festival grounds.

This event, as well as the Maize Quest, are family oriented events and quite educational for everyone. The many uses of corn and corn by-products are interesting to see and learn about. Don’t miss one these fun events if you are in the Central Florida area in May or October!

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