(Francesville, IN) - A Northwest Indiana family with deep roots in agriculture has gone from raising corn and grinding it into flour to producing food eaten in places like movie theatres.
Gutwein Popcorn in Francesville is among the farms featured during the Indiana State Fair from July 29 to August 21.
Owner Harvey Gutwein, Jr. said he plans to give fairgoers a glimpse of what it takes to be a successful farmer.
“You have to have a desire to work pretty hard and do what needs done when it needs done,” Gutwein said.
He said farmers also must have marketing skills to help establish a good customer base for their products.
About 50 million pounds of popcorn are grown annually on the 9,000-acre farm in Pulaski County.
Gutwein said most of his popcorn is distributed to packers who place the kernels into various containers before being distributed and sold under different brands. Some of his kernels are popped in the area's movie theatres and high school sporting events. One of his customers is the Indianapolis Colts.
The rest of his kernels are used in his Gutwein Popcorn brand, which is available online, in local retail stores, and in a small gift shop at the farm. His sales are predominantly in the U.S. and Asia.
Gutwein is scheduled to engage with fairgoers about his operation on August 8.
His great grandfather, Philip, began raising and milling corn into flour in 1906 after coming to the U.S. and settling in Francesville. His grandfather, Fred, and father, Harvey, switched to seed corn on the farm in 1936 when they founded Gutwein Hybrids.
In 1998, Gutwein, needing a change from seed corn, planted his first popcorn crop on just a few hundred acres. The rest of his family later dropped out of farming which opened up more land to expand his popcorn production as he added more customers.
"I think once we got the reputation of growing top quality popcorn, that helped us," Gutwein said.
Gutwein said he also wants to inform fairgoers a successful farmer doesn't rely totally on Mother Nature.
"You can't control the weather, but you can control other things. You got to do your part, and that's about all you can do," Gutwein said.