As 659 men, women and children held ears of freshly husked corn above their heads, as if making an offering to the gods, the news they wanted to hear came blasting across the public address system.
"We are," the attendees of Brentwood's CornFest were told, "the proud holders of a world record!"
The crowd cut loose with a loud cheer.
What did you expect, "Aw, shucks"?
Corn is a point of pride in Brentwood. So it seemed only fitting to mark the 20th annual CornFest with a tribute to the city's agricultural roots. It was decided that an attempt would be made to break the world record for most ears of corn husked in one place at one time.
The mark was 351 when CornFest organizers first decided to try for a crowd of 500. But earlier this month, slightly more than 600 Canadians raised the record in Chilliwack, B.C.
"That was a curve ball," Cornfest chairman Dirk Zeigler said after the record had been imported back to the United States. "Typical Brentwood, the community stepped up."
It didn't look promising at 11:15 a.m., at which time only 78 people had signed up at the information desk for the scheduled 1 p.m. event. At 12:30, roughly 30 people were in the seven rows of 15 chairs aligned in the husking zone. About 30 more people sat in the shade of a nearby canopy.
The small early turnout could have been attributable to the many and varied attractions at CornFest, which supports local nonprofits. Live music was
More than 200 vendors offered goods and services. Recruiting stations were manned by the Army, Navy and Marines.
"We've been coming for, I'd guess, the last five years," said Janet Miller, of Oakley, who was with her young daughter Sophia. "We really enjoy it. There's a good children's area and lots of things to do, carnival rides and, obviously, carnival food."
Miller's visit Saturday was as much business as pleasure -- she was one of 20 stewards volunteering for the world record husking event.
"You always hear about the Guinness Book of World Records," she said. "This will be neat to be a part of."
Laura Wilson, of Oakley, used to drive her now-adult children to CornFest when she lived in Pinole.
"I'm one of those weirdos who likes to have their picture taken with mascots," she said, laughing. "You're never too old to be a kid."
People were still arriving for the cornhusking at 1:15. At 1:28 the crowd was advised, "We're very close." Two minutes later: "We need 20 more people."
Once a record gathering had been achieved, participants were asked to hold their ear of corn up for photographers. Then they were asked to tear off the husk and hold the ear up again.
The record will have to be verified by Guinness, but Zeigler was confident it would hold up.
"I feel real good," he said. "We had no idea what to expect. The community supported us. The city supported everybody. I'm just happy to be a part of it."
"It will put us on the map," Miller said. "At least for another week."
Contact Gary Peterson at 925-952-5053. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/garyscribe.