41st Hand Corn Picking Contest


Nicole Griffith, KDLT News


FLANDREAU, SD — It was a sight for the ears at the 41st annual SD State Hand Corn Picking Contest.

With only using two hands for ten minutes the contestants of all ages husked away.

Even though technology has changed the game long time participant John VanLiere remembers learning to pick way back in the 30’s at 5-years-old.

He reflects on how the corn craft has changed.

“They’ve got these big combines and you’ve seen them and they can go through a field of beats in a day and we used to take weeks,” says VanLiere.

Although the contests don’t draw the crowds it used to VanLiere says it’s important for the tradition to never be forgotten.

“It’s great for the young folks to learn how crops are raised and how they’re harvested and how they were harvested. It’s something especially for the folk to say grandpa did this,” laughs VanLiere.

The contest featured beginning pickers such as Greg Schnieders of Dell Rapids. He says he was inspired from a being a spectator.

“It was extremely interesting and intriguing to watch how it used to be done. And to see them perform this art this heritage of agriculture in South Dakota,” says Schnieders.

Schnieders hopes he doesn’t embarrass himself but he knows where to go to perfect his picking game.

South Dakota is hosting the hand picking national championships in Flandreau next year.

The contest is expected to draw in participants from more than 10 states.