Palm Beach County's sun-drenched beaches and mild tropical climate may seem like the area's defining characteristics, but with $60 million of sweet corn harvested during April and May alone, it's the yellow stuff that's bringing in the dough. And while you may associate the Corn Huskers with Nebraska, it's Palm Beach that's the nation's leading sweet corn producer. Put that in your corn-cob pipe and smoke it.
The fifth-annual Sweet Corn Fiesta, going down this Sunday at the South Florida Fairgrounds (9067 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach), celebrates the spring growing season and the people who make it happen. The festivities get popping at 11 a.m. with children's rides and games, music, competitions, and some of the sweetest corn on the face of the Earth. But the real draw is the National Corn Eating Contest, which starts at 2 p.m. Featuring stars from the International Federation of Competitive Eaters, these "professional" chow hounds will attempt to gobble down as many ears as possible for a $1,000 prize and the title of National Corn Eating Champion. For "athletes" not quite honed to battle at the national level, a local corn-eating contest will also be held for a $100 prize. Admission costs $3 to $5. Call 561-793-0333, or visit www.southfloridafair.com. -- Paul A. Leone
Def Cultural Jam
If you think Harriet Tubman's underground railroad had a dining car or that Booker T. Washington had a string of hits with the MGs -- man, you need a black history tune-up! Your opportunity is nigh as the Broward County Library, Broward Community College, and others present the 2005 Pan-African Bookfest and Cultural Conference, through April 28 at the African-American Library and Cultural Center (2650 Sistrunk Blvd., Fort Lauderdale) and various other locations. The conference features distinguished authors, professors, and guest speakers from around the globe. Programs like "Rastafari in the 21st Century" by Priest Douggy Smith of Boboshanti House will draw the culturally hungry of all ages -- maybe even the munchie-hungry who thought they just read Snoop Doggy smokes like a Rastafarian in the house. Call 954-357-7348, or visit www.broward org/library. -- John Shannon
But is she rootsy?
Just last week, Roots Girl Princess K launched Rootsy Fridays, a giant mashup of DJs spinning roots and reggae, showings of reggae documentaries, live performances, and a fashion show. "The highlight," K says, "is the world's most delicious roast fish." Princess K's friend, dancehall/gospel/country singer Chopper Ranks, described her as "one of the most blessed people in the world. When I listen to [her]... it makes me feel the roots, and when I see her website, I know [she is] the roots of all rootsy." Miz K's eats and beats will be served poolside at the Plantation Inn and Lounge (375 N. State Rd. 7, Plantation), from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. Admission is free. Call 954-597-2177, or visit www.rootsyrootsy.com. -- Deirdra Funcheon
Get Lei'd for Charity
Take out the grass skirt and coconut-shell bra for the Angels of the Red Cross Polynesian Luau on Saturday, April 23, at the Falls at Marina Bay (2600 Marina Bay Dr. E., Fort Lauderdale). Along with hula and fire dancers, there will be a Chinese auction, a full buffet, and more. The island fun starts at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $40 to $50. Call 954-797-3807, or visit www.arcbcc.org. -- Paul A. Leone