I am just standing around — Minding my own business

And suddenly

My face. My name.

My bookcover.

I’m a speaker at Husker Harvest Days.

 Uh…what is (are?) Husker Harvest Days?

 Well, there’s actual corn. They actually harvest it. With combines and tractors and there’s irrigation equipment and ATVs. It’s a demonstration of what’s coolest and newest and best in farm equipment.

A trade show. For farmers and ranchers.

Estimated attendance? Oh……..

100,000 people!




I swear they tricked me.

I love writing. Duh, I’m a writer. I have been told that, in writing, I appear to be quite amusing and confident and even (on a good and lucky day) skilled at expressing myself with the written work. 

But ummmmmmmmmm Public speaking?

Not so much.

My daughter was on the Speech Team in High School. She had a T-shirt that said:

We do for fun……….

What most people fear more than death.

This comes from a survey done listing people’s top ten fears.

1. Public Speaking

2. Death

I completely get this. I HATE public speaking. I am no good at it. And here’s the real reason I hate public speaking…because it drives me crazy before and after I speak…for YEARS.

Not DURING so much…or at least the DURING is over quickly. Before and after I am HAUNTED.

Twenty-seven years from now…sitting in a nursing home…I’ll have a sleepless night…and I’ll lay there and think, “Why did I make that stupid lame joke at Husker Harvest Days in 2008? Why? Why? Why?

So anyway, I’m speaking at Husker Harvest Days next week. I know this because it appeared in Nebraska Farmer Magazine.

(If you go to this link, you’ll see that YEP, there I am. There’s my book cover. YIKES) It also says what I’m gonna talk about. That’s good because I had no idea. I looked at what I’m supposed to talk about. Okay, I can talk about that stuff. I made notes.

I knew I was invited to go. I knew I had a booth. I even knew I’d have a turn ‘presenting’ something. I visualized about one hundred people all doing this ‘presenting’ at the same time…kinda Home Shopping Network Rural Nebraska style. Honestly I didn’t visualize it at all because if I start visualizing I kick off the pre-public speaking instant replay-worst case scenario-obsessive compulsive-insomnia-madness. So, because I have raised denial to an artform, I hadn’t given it much thought and had no idea what to expect, I’ve never been to Husker Harvest Days before.

Then The Nebraska Farmer Magazine comes out with my book cover and me…along with FIVE OTHERS…only five. What about one hundred? Where’d they all go? I mean sure, I only made that number up in my head, but still………..

Five of us giving daily presentations. I get the 1 – 2 p.m. hour.

An HOUR? I can’t talk for an hour?

I am so DOOMED.

I believe it is fair to say I have a God given gift for the written word.

Getting up in front of a crowd to speak.

Not so much.

So, anybody here like to give speeches?

Anybody ever embarrass themselves in front of a crowd?

I’m trying to be light-hearted about this, but honestly I’m just sick to my stomach. I am terrified. A little weepy. I may possibly be having a heart attack. But probably not. I’ve lived quite a while and I’m not all that lucky. So no reason to hope I’ll get lucky now and end up in an ICU until Husker Harvest Days are over

Consider for a moment your average sit-com.

About ten times a season they run a script of the main character being humiliated in front of a room full of people. There’s a reason for this.


It’s my turn. Next week. At Husker Harvest Days.

If I survive, you may hear how it went.

Or not, I’m working on the other end of denial, forgetting it after it happens.

          FYI, that picture right there on the left? A Corn Husker. A weird leather and metal device strapped on the hand of a person who is husking corn. There’s a contest, fastest corn husker. There is also a display of combines. Prices run around $200,000. The newer, flashier Corn Husker.



click to purchase


Website | + posts

Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

48 thoughts on “HUSKER HARVEST DAYS???”

  1. Mary, Wow! You are really making a name for yourself here in Nebraska. You’ve become a fresh voice, and what great promo for your books! Loved the program and how big your cover is. Congratulations!

    I truly envy people who can get in front of a crowd and speak as easily as if they were talking to their mothers. You’ll be fine! Sometimes the anticipation is worse than actually being up there, so you go girl! And let us know how it went!

  2. It’s so funny to think about all the anxiety and insomnia (well not funny really), because you always project an aura of calm. I think that’s where I get the inner monologue…..
    😉 But we both know I have no trouble sleeping….

  3. Wow! Can you imagine husking every ear of corn with that hand held thing??? How long ago did they use that type of equipment?

  4. That is very brave of you to still get up and speak when you know you have this fear. Well, brave or masochistic… I suppose those two are often somewhat interchangable…

  5. My in-laws actually own one of these, a corn husker. Or I’ve heard it called a Palm Husker or a Husking Peg. Well I haven’t actually HEARD it. Who talks about this stuff.
    It boggles the mind to imagine picking every ear of corn by hand and husking it manually.
    But remember, people didn’t use to plant a thousand acres of corn either. Ten acres was more like it. Much more manageable task.

  6. Husker Harvest Days, in it’s fourth decade.
    But seriously fourth decade? Is that a big deal? I’m in my fourth decade.
    (okay fifth–shut up)

    Nebraska Farmer, working with the Agricultural Institute of Nebraska in Grand Island, began Husker Harvest Days in 1978, on 1,000 acres of former U.S. Army Ordnance land west of this central Nebraska city.

    Husker Harvest Days has become one of the nation’s premier working farm shows, with exhibitors and field demonstrations geared to Nebraska and Western Corn Belt agriculture. It is the nation’s largest farm show in which all field crops and plots are irrigated. The half-dozen center-pivot systems and one lateral-move sprinkler that water those crops also are demonstrated during the show.

    Visitors from Nebraska and more than 20 other states have attended the three-day event. They are welcomed by 500 exhibitors, offering a wide range of ag products and services.

    Each year, visitors have the opportunity to see everything, from the latest in technology to seed to crop chemicals to field demonstrations to livestock handling and equine events. You’ll also find rural life programs, health screening services and arts and crafts.

    Husker Harvest Days was one of the first farm shows to conduct cattle handling demonstrations. And the Nebraska Farmer Hospitality Tent holds one of the largest health screening services available anywhere at an agricultural event.

    The 2008 Husker Harvest Days, Sept. 9-11, will be the 31st edition of the show at the same permanent site along Husker Highway six miles west of Grand Island.

  7. Hi Mary, I think it’s awesome that you were invited to speak at such an event. What a great honor for you. I know you can do it!!

    When I was president of a student group (about 400 students) back in college a long time ago, we had a tradition at the University of starting off every meeting with a joke (told by the president). I was initially nervous at first (more about telling a good joke than actually running the meetings)but I realized it was a great way to break the ice and getting everyone warmed up and relaxed to whatever I had to say. Plus, I laughed too which effectively squelched the butterflies threatening to take over my digestive system.

    So if you’re able, or you know a good farm joke, maybe that will help you get started and get your audience warmed up.

    Anyway you do it, YOU CAN DO IT!!!

  8. Two comments – first public speaking scares me to death, too — I’ve actually done quite a bit of it and, truthfully think of myself as pretty good at it, BUT I always have some unpredictable physical manifestation of fear. Once I broke out in a total, drenching sweat from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. Another time I got cotton mouth – I know what that is now, my mouth was totally and completely dry – imagine your tongue being stuck to the roof of your mouth because your mouth is so dry – it gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, scared spitless.

    Second comment – Cornhusker – that’s what they call the UNL football team – maybe it’s not such a silly name after all – if not frightening, they’re at least tenacious.

  9. Thank you SO MUCH, Lois. Some new things to worry about.

    I’ve been trying to google info about Corn Husking.
    Well, forget it. All I get is one ZILLION Nebraska football hits.

  10. A joke. Okay. I’ve got a joke. And farmers are nice people for the most part. What are the chances they’ll start booing and throwing tomatoes.
    They’re conservative people, too. Throwing a perfectly good tomato is just wasteful

    I’m taking free candy. 🙂

  11. Congratulations on being asked to speak, Mary! You’ll do fine! Just be yourself!

    I love those farm shows. It’s been a few years since I’ve been to any, but thanks for the reminder. I’ll have to check and see if there are any around here soon…

    LOL on people being more afraid of public speaking than death. Did you ever see that Seinfeld episode where he says that this means most people would rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy!

  12. What a thing to have happen to one. I love it, Mary! Thanks for sharing all this info with us. And have fun husking corn. I’m from the corn belt originally, and I remember well husking corn by hand. : )

  13. Sounds like a great time, Mary. And you’re bound to impress them. Hey, you’re a famous author!
    I’ve husked a little garden corn by hand and that’s about it. But I love the smell of fresh corn and the way it sort of glistens when you first uncover it (that must get pretty old when you’re husking a big pile). Have fun!

  14. I’m looking forward to seeing really shiny big equipment.
    And I’d like to watch the livestock stuff. Sorting cattle. There’ll be horses and loading chutes and squeeze chutes. It’ll be interesting. I might get some material for a book.
    Grand Island also has The Stuhr Museum.
    I think the Husker Harvest Days closes in the evening. So I’m hoping to spend an evening here.
    But it sounds like it only runs daytime hours. I’m hoping, for the biggest event of the year in Grand Island, they might be open in the evening.
    It’s a living history museum, with a working old train and a working blacksmith shop, all that old stuff, probably be amazing source of material.

  15. You’re gonna do great Mary! And I hope the Stuhr museum is open so you can go see it. Grand Island is kind of a happening place – well, as happening as the middle of Nebraska gets. And I can say that because I’m from Nebraska.

  16. Mary,

    What a wonderful opportunity for you! Your publisher will be thrilled that your book is being advertised in a huge way. Hey, maybe they’ll give you a raise on your next contract!

    I know it’s scary talking in front of a crowd but we all have total faith in you. I can say this because it’s not me having to do it. I’d rather die a thousand deaths than do public speaking. My mind goes blank and like Lois said I get horrible dry mouth. Words come out in a squeak if they come at all and I embarrass myself to death. But, you can do this. I know you can.

    And hey, don’t worry until they start throwing corn cobs at you. Tomatoes don’t hurt. 🙂

  17. Oh Mary, I love Nebraska. Thanks for this post. I’m gonna tell my Husker buddy to visit the Junction today. Enjoy your 15 minutes. You deserve it and you have a great sense of humor.

  18. Hi Mary,
    I know nothing about husking corn, but I DO know a great opportunity when I see one. I’m so happy for you … loved to see the book cover (so huge on the page) too!
    You know what they say about public speaking, picture your audience sitting on the toilet, or wearing nothing at all, or both!

    Honestly, you’re so funny. Just be yourself and you’ll do fine. 🙂

  19. Mary, you might steal some ideas from the guy who talks right before you do. He’s doing cowboy humor and poetry. Or maybe you can pay him to hang around and tell a joke or two before you talk. He might work pretty cheap. 🙂

  20. I saw that cowboy humorist and poet. I’m totally taking notes. If I don’t use it this exact day, I’ll use it later…when he’s not watching!!!

    And by the way, Linda it is Sooooooooo lovely of you to cheer me on and predict success fame and wealth, all while hiding behind your own keyboard!!!!!!

  21. Hi, Tanya. Your 15 minutes comment, referring to 15 minutes of fame. Except instead I’ll probably end up with ONE HOUR of disaster…I suppose it could go so WRONG I could be famous for the disaster.
    Mary ‘Titanic’ Connealy!!!

  22. Somehow I think Ms. Connealy will handle herself with her usual aplomb…

    And pity the poor farmer that gets in her way, LOL!

    And hey, waving enthusiastically to all these cool ladies! Alexis, Lois, Rye, Wendy, Linda….

    Great to ‘see’ you gals!

    So Mary, I loved, loved, loved Calico Canyon. You take what you plugged into those first two delightful books and just talk about your mother-in-laws exploits of raising boys followed by your years of raising those crazy, irrepressible girls of yours (each one beautiful, BTW) and you’ll fill your hour.

    Of course your children and your brothers-in-law will never speak to you again, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!



  23. picture my audience sitting on the toilet????


    the only response I can come up with are probably best not put in a public forum………

    only bad could come of that.

  24. Such a fantastic opportunity, Mary. Your comment about not thinking you can fill an hour made me laugh – sometimes when I write my long posts, I think they’re going to call me ‘Mary Mae’ by mistake. 🙂

    I agree with the rest – just be yourself and talk the way you write.

    You want a story? – I would never get up to sharpen a pencil in school in case someone looked at me. Joining the military helped but I was just a private and basically did what I was told. B/c I needed points for my ‘record’, I joined a library board for an easy job. But before I knew it, the board joined with 4 other libraries and voted me in as their Chairperson. I never did figure out how it happened, but it looked good on my record. Well – until the day the new library ‘system’ decided to hold a press conference and I – as chairperson – had to be the spokesperson. What? So there I was, at the front of a room filled with library board mbrs, patrons, the 5 mayors from the communities, local politicians, a provincial politian, my bosses!, and a couple newspaper reporters. With cameras.

    I was supposed to speak for 20 minutes and then introduce the new man we’d hired to get the system up and running.

    I stood up, stammered, did my speech, and sat down in 3 mins flat. The new guy sat there and stared at me b/c now he had an extra 17 mins to fill.

    But you know, that was a turning point b/c it never happened again. You know why?

    B/c now I know NOTHING will ever be that bad!

  25. Mary,you are cracking me up!! I’m picturing you in that nursing home fretting over a flopped joke.

    Of course, you would never tell a flop of a joke. You’re too funny naturally. 🙂 You’ll do great!! And think of all the great promo.

    I always wondered what a corn husker was (thought it was just the person who shucks the corn like I do, I guess!). 🙂 Thanks for that bit of info and the photo.


  26. Okay, it never happened again.

    I thought you were going a different way with that Anita Mae. I thought you’d say, “The library board came to their senses and named a new spokesman.”

    You know, this happens to me when I’m speaking. The more memorized the worse it gets. I’ve got stuff to say and while Im up there, I start mentally editing. “That’s not funny.” “No one wants to hear that.” “skip that, skip that, skip that.”
    Before I know it…my speech is two sentences long.

  27. Well, now Missy darlin’ a corn husker can obviously be a noun and a verb.

    The English language is a full, living, growing critter and you have recognized that fact and are a better person for it. 🙂

  28. Anita Mae, if you really have found a way to discourage people from asking you to give a speech, maybe you ought to teach a class.

    We’d figure out a way you didn’t have to stand up front to teach it.

  29. You want to know the best way to get out of it…nominate someone else…

    Actually, I just realized that I do a lot of speaking in church and I have spoken a lot in public since the above momentous event, including showing our goats in the huge Nov farm show – Agribition.

    I think what it boils down to is passion.

    Do you feel passion for your topic. Do you want everyone to know what you do? What you write about? Do you want to encourage other writers? Do you want to spread the Word through your books?

    When I think back, I never had a problem speaking in public when I truly felt passionate about my topic.

  30. Whoa! Better you than me, Mary! 😉

    Sorry, there’s very little I’d enjoy less than something like that, but I think Anita Mae’s got it right–if you choose something you’re passionate about, it’ll be easier to talk about and the time will fly. Otherwise… *gulp!*

    I’ll be praying for you! 😉

  31. Hi Mary & Anita Mae,

    There’s nothing that says you have to absolutely
    be in front of a class/group to teach it. You can
    stand at the back of the room and communicate your
    information to the backs of their heads! LOL!

    Pat Cochran

  32. I grew up on a farm north of Columbus, NE. My brother still lives there and has some of the corn huskers pictured. We used these to pick the corn on the “ends” of the field when I was small. This means the corn on the ends of rows which would otherwise have been run over by the tractor pulling the corn picker. Each person had his/her own corn husker, just like each had a special milking stool. We held the ear of corn with one hand, hooked the corn husker at the bottom and yanked the ear off. My Aunt Esther was very fast.

  33. Mary, I am still laughing! Love the whole concept. Will have to check out the website. Never know who may show up at these things. My husband was very good at using the corn husker. I would drive the tractor…very slowly… because they were always afraid I would take out a fence (hey it only happened once, but that is a whole other story) while Dale and his dad would pick corn to “open the field”. Fast we weren’t but they were very thorough.

  34. Hello, corn girl. If you’d give me a heads up the night before you were blogging I would follow you around the blogosphere to read your funny stories. Now it is quite late and I am laughing in my jammies at your stories.

  35. Nancy??? I have family in Columbus. I’ll bet your know them. About fifty nieces and nephews of all ages. Plus the grown ups of course.
    email me and we’ll talk.
    That goes for anyone willing to pray for my survival through Husker Harvest Days. Email me and also perhaps mail me some oh…. valium? Maybe?
    mary @

    I’ve seen the husking contests. These people are amazingly fast. It’s NOTHING like husking a few pieces of sweet corn, just RIP the whole husk off in about one hard swipe.
    Very cool.
    Well, VERY might be a little strong. 😀

  37. I actually enjoy public speaking and don’t normally get nervous at all. Normally… I remember one semester I did an internship where I would give talk about our program at area churches. I would get nervous and my contacts would get dry and I suddenly would not be able to see!

Comments are closed.