MARIETTA — If you had trouble finding corn at the store Monday, it might be because it was all at Jim Miller Park.
That was the site of Cobb’s 30th annual Corn Boilin’ — a fundraiser for both The Youth Museum in Marietta and Sheriff Neil Warren’s reelection campaign.
Over 100 volunteers served up heaping plates of beans, vegetables, melons, coleslaw, fatback and, of course, yellow sweet corn to a hungry crowd that included luminaries and elected officials ranging from city council members to state representatives and senators to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
Georgia’s governor, who Warren said has been attending the event for years, joked about the boilin’s fancy new digs. This year is the first event held inside Jim Miller Park’s renovated events center. Last year’s event was at the Cobb Civic Center because of the construction at the park.
“You people are getting spoiled out here with the air conditioning, I’m not used to this at the corn boilin’,” Kemp said with a laugh.
But the crowd, which numbered over 700, seemed to enjoy the respite from the July sun as they chowed down. The hall was packed with folks wearing red, white and blue outfits, shirts with Warren’s name on them and shirts featuring the thin blue line American flag.
You couldn’t swing a corn cob in the room without hitting a supporter of Warren and Kemp, like Patricia Fuller, a Kennesaw retiree. She’s lived in Cobb for 32 years and attends the same church as Warren.
“I love anyone with an R by their name,” she said. “Because I’m a Republican, and their platform goes along with what decent people think.”
Warren said he was filled with pride when he took the stage.
“I’m just honored and humbled,” he told the MDJ as he shook hands and posed for photos with supporters. “I’ve been doing this for years, and I’ve got so many friends out there. I get to hug them and shake their hands, and I have some individuals who will come shortly after the first of the year who will say ‘Hey, is the corn boilin’ still on? When are you going to do it?’”
With Warren, a Republican with hardline stances against illegal immigration, receiving plenty of props over the course of the night, it would have been easy to forget that his next election comes during a time when Cobb County voters appear increasingly receptive to Democratic candidates.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton narrowly outperformed now-President Donald Trump in Cobb, receiving 47.9% of the vote in Cobb to Trump’s 45.7%. In last year’s gubernatorial election, the gap between the Democrat and Republican in Cobb was even greater, with candidate Stacey Abrams beating Kemp in Cobb by about 10%. That election also saw the Cobb Legislative Delegation flip from red to blue for the first time in decades.
But Warren, who has been sheriff since 2004, said he is not worried about his chances.
“Times are changing, but I’ve always pulled a good portion, I’ve got some Democrat friends and I’ve got some Republican friends and I’ve got some independents. So I think we’re going to do all right. I’m looking forward to a good campaign.”
Warren added that no other candidate has yet declared against him.
“And I hope it stays that way,” he said with a laugh.
In another highlight of the night, Warren donated $10,000 to the Youth Museum in Marietta.
Kristi Storey, executive director of the Youth Museum, said the yearly funds from the corn-focused celebrations are a big boon for the private nonprofit museum.
“It helps us maintain our admission price, it helps keep us affordable for all the students in Cobb County, and then it also helps us with props and costumes. … This is huge for us,” she said. “This helps us a lot. Our annual budget is pretty small, considering, so this makes a huge difference.”