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Prominent DeKalb Businessman Hates Corn Fest

DeKalb Business Developer Hates Cornfest
Chicagoland homes via YouTube

If you have lived in or visited DeKalb in late August, you probably have experienced the annual Corn Fest in downtown DeKalb. It’s a fun late summer festival cherished by everyone. Well….almost everyone.

For three days, the City of DeKalb closes down Rt 38 from 1st Street to 4th street to offer up a festival of food, beverages, free music and entertainment. Corn Fest organizers bill the event as:

One of the last remaining free music festivals among Illinois music festivals and summer festivals. Celebrating its 40th year the festival will be held in downtown DeKalb on Lincoln Hwy. between 1st and 4th St. All shows are free to the public.

This year, Corn Fest will take place August 25, 26, and 27th.

Granted, a lot of people enjoy the festival, but that was not the case for DeKalb area businessman and developer John Pappas. On June 19th, 2017, Mr Pappas appeared before the City of DeKalb planning and zoning committee to discuss construction of a new 4-story apartment building that Mr. Pappas wants to build downtown.

As is the case with all public meetings, citizens can comment and present testimony before the board. Many citizens expressed deep concern about parking in downtown DeKalb. Mr Pappas took to the podium and refuted their complaints, and while doing so, went on to complain about Corn Fest, which also takes place downtown.


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Mr. Pappas refers to Corn Fest as “Gypsyfest”. He goes on to say “I wouldn’t have the damn thing downtown.” Strong words!

Corn Fest Chairperson Lisa Angel disagrees with Mr Pappa’s comments. When Angel heard Mr Pappas’ statement she provided this statement:

I’m not sure where Mr. Pappas receives his information but being the chairperson of Corn Fest I can accurately state that 60% of the vendors at our 2017 fest are local businesses. Many others are from DeKalb or local counties. I grew up in DeKalb as did many other board members and we are all volunteers and put in hundreds of hours every year to run this festival. The reason? Because it is a town tradition that we grew up on as our children have. We would not do this if it did not benefit our town and local businesses. I personally invite Mr Pappas to come down to Corn Fest and see all the families and local merchants for himself and make an informed decision. We hope to work with him in future years as we have with all the other downtown business owners who enjoy having the family tradition downtown.

Despite Mr Pappas’ comments, Corn Fest will go on as scheduled. According to the Daily Chronicle, the City of DeKalb is directing a $3 million tax increment financing contribution (taxpayer dollars) to Mr Pappas’s downtown Cornerstone project.

Check out what Corn Fest looks like from above. Sure looks like everyone is having a good time!

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