Hello fellow huskers and friends! Hope that you had as good of a time as I did at the ’04
National in Oakley, Kansas. We started the trip on Friday evening, October 15th and
arrived on the field Saturday afternoon around 4:00 p.m. On the way we stopped for a
visit at the Eisenhower Museum complex in Abilene and visited with old friends in Salina.
At each stop we had such a good time that we arrived on the field a little later than
planned. I neared Oakley with much anticipation because I had not been there since the
’95 National. The Nationals are always pleasurable occasions for me, so I was delighted to
return and represent Missouri as one of its contestants.
Kansas is noted for well-managed contests and even corn, and it was no different this
time. The state and National contests were held just east of the Logan County Fairgrounds
located on the east side of town. The field of irrigated corn was owned by Gary and
Raelene Keller. The corn was excellent, standing well, and with high ear placement. There
was little or no corn on the ground and very few broken stalks, so the huskers could
concentrate on husking and cleaning the corn. The weather was excellent on Saturday
with clear skies, temperatures in the low 60s, and a southerly breeze. As the National
contest progressed on Sunday, the sky became overcast with cooler temperatures and a
stiffer southerly breeze.
The Kansas Association chaired by Warren Park has our appreciation for doing such a fine
job hosting the National. Besides crediting Warren, I know that credit goes to other
Association members such as Joyce Bosserman and Margie Broeckelman. Mrs.
Bosserman, the Kansas Association secretary, handled a lot of the contest paperwork,
advertisement, and meal planning. Margie Broeckelman, Chamber of Commerce Director,
lined up the teams for both days of competition. She also opened the contests by singing
the National Anthem and provided entertainment at the banquet on Saturday evening with
several good vocal numbers. Bob Staley from Atchison and a mysterious woman also
entertained the audience with a fine dance number. To all of the Kansas Association
members and contest workers, THANK YOU for good corn and a well managed contest.
As most of you know, last fall’s ’04 Kansas contest was the 30th National since its
inception in 1975. The first post-War National of 1975 was held on land owned by Roger
Hockersmith just west of Oakley and featured only 10 contestants in the Open class. The
’04 National featured 93 contestants in nine classes. None of the original contestants were
on the field last fall. However, Joe Anholt, the ’75 National runner-up qualified for the
Open class last fall by placing third at Iowa’s state contest. At age 84 that was quite an
accomplishment. Looking at some of the other earlier National contestants, I noticed that
Herb Swason from Renner, South Dakota was a fourth place finisher at the 1976 National.
Mr. Swason was an Open contestant at South Dakota’s ’03 state contest and was a team
competitor at their state contest last fall. His best production as an Open contestant was
his runner-up finish in the 1978 National at the Burton and Jo Burkman farm near
Brandon, South Dakota. I also noticed that John Van Liere husked in the 1979 National at
Dayton, Ohio and finished the ’04 season as South Dakota champ and fourth place in the
Open class at the National.
I want to end this article with my congratulations to all National trophy winners that
participated last fall. I could not help noticing that the Golden Agers class lacked only
three contestants from being full. Not bad for men in their late 70s and older making the
trip. The winner of that class was Missouri veteran Clifford Webb. Clifford at the age of
62 was the first Missouri state champion in its revival contest in 1983. His grandson Rob
Roberts husked his way to the runner-up spot in the Men’s Open and his great-grandson
Seth Roberts ended the day as the runner-up in the Boys Youth class behind champion
Riley Guthrie. Our Association is fortunate to have several veteran husking families with
several members competing in the different classes. The National champions, Rochelle
Myers and Frank Hennenfent, left the field with fine performances. Rochelle from Polo,
Missouri ended the afternoon with her sixth title, outlasting Julia Van Laar who is a
five-time titleholder from Iowa. Lisa Warpinski of Illinois ended the day with a fine third
place finish. Frank Hennenfent finished the afternoon earning his fourth National title with
a very strong performance. He was dominant on the field husking 896 gross pounds and
876.3 net pounds. Defending champion Wayne Guthrie performed well husking a gross
load of 776 pounds. However, a discrepancy concerning his husks deduction dropped him
down the list. Rob Roberts from Mooresville, Missouri garnered his second runner-up
trophy in the last three seasons with a strong performance of 766 gross pounds of corn.
Ted Martin from Arlington, Nebraska finished the day with his best Open performance and
the third place trophy.
When all of the results had been finalized, Missouri huskers left the field with the highest
point production among the various state husker delegations. Missouri fielded a fine group
of huskers who tallied a total of 11 points. However, they barely edged out the
Nebraskans who ended up with 10 team points. Each state accumulates points when their
contestants finish in the top positions of each class. Five out of the nine classes involved
key battles between Missouri and Nebraska huskers. Nebraska women, Marlene Otte and
Martha Allen, won the top two spots in the Senior Women’s class with Pat Becker of
Missouri in third place. The Junior Women’s class found Ayme Barry of Nebraska and
Jonna Riley of Missouri in the top spots. A good battle in the Senior Men’s class found
Missourian John Becker edging out Nebraska husker Jack Guthrie for the class
championship. A more detailed explanation of how the points are calculated to determine
state ranks is located on page 175 of my book, The National.
Best wishes to all of you for a productive and safe spring and summer. When cornhusking
season rolls next fall we’ll probably be looking back trying to figure out where the summer
went. Until then, God bless!