Eden’s corn, Alden’s wells dealing with drought in different ways

EDEN, N.Y. (WIVB) — At the height of one of the worst droughts this region is seen in nearly 30 years is the Eden Corn Festival, featuring a crop that’s had a difficult summer. But festival officials said they don’t expect that to have that much of an impact this year.

Set up was well underway Tuesday afternoon at the American Legion, the site of the annual corn celebration, now in its 53rd year.
“We’re facing a little bit of adverse conditions with the drought this year, but the local farmers have done a great job as far is getting plenty of irrigation to the corn,” said Jeff Winter, president of the Eden Corn Festival.
But with events spanning more than half a century, this popular festival has weathered plenty of storms, or lack thereof.
“We’ve gone from droughts floods to rainstorms to hailstorms to cold-weather to tornadoes, so we’ve pretty much experienced it all,” Winter said. “We’ve pretty much weathered everything, but I don’t want to say we’ve seen it all because just when I think that something else comes at me.”
The lack of rain means additional cost for farmers, who are forced to spend more money on things like irrigation. But Winter said don’t expect to see a jump in what visitors will shuck out if they’re planning on spending time at the festival this weekend.
“You’re probably going to notice a slight increase in prices, obviously it’s costing more to produce a product, and every time that has to get passed on to the consumer,” Winter said. “At the festival, we try to hold the prices the same as last year, which we’ve done in most cases, but market conditions will dictate the price.”
The corn may be shorter this year, put festival organizers said it’s also sweeter. That’s why they expect nearly 100,000 people to fill the festival fairgrounds this weekend.
In the coming weeks, the town of Alden will be breaking ground to tap into Erie County’s water supply to help replenish its aquifer, which hasn’t been this low in its 115 year history.
“We started off with voluntary restrictions a couple weeks ago, and move to mandatory restrictions, no filling up pools, no watering of lawns, no washing of cars, no wasting of water,” said Alden Mayor Michael Manicki.
Manicki said they’ve also ordered the high school to stop watering its athletic fields. The turf is now brown and stiff. And they’ve  asked the school system to hold off on filling it’s pool for the season until they can tap in to Erie County.
“Our water system is 115 years old and that’s the first time in anybody’s memory that we’ve been in this position where we’ve had to put in mandatory restrictions, and the first time we’ve had to purchase water from anybody else,” Manicki said.
“Our actual output is down by about 50 percent, so the water we’re going to buy from the water authority will supplement us, give our wells time to recharge.”
The agreement with Erie County and Alden runs until Nov. 1. But after an abnormally dry winter, spring and summer, it may take a little longer to refill the town’s supply.

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