Local farm grows popcorn for theatre at riverfront Museum

By WEEK Producer

October 6, 2012 Updated Oct 8, 2012 at 10:07 AM CDT

PEORIA COUNTY, Ill. -- Darin Blunier and his son Cody were inspecting their popcorn crop Saturday morning, continuing a family ritual that began with Darin's father, Dale Blunier.

"I think he started the popcorn to give us something to do after school," said Darin "He used the money from selling the popcorn to take us on a family vacation. He basically sold the popcorn to friends and neighbors."

What his father started as a lark has expanded under Darin.

The owner of Bluhaven Farm, just west of Edelstein, the Blunier's now plant about four acres of popping corn each year. They grow four varieties and sell it locally at farmers markets.

People enjoy the popcorn so much that recently Darin got a new customer without even trying.

"The Riverfront Museum called me last winter asked if we'd be interested in supplying them throughout the year," explained Blunier, "so, we planned for that, planted more acreage of that variety, a yellow hull-less variety that would be good for that."

Darin says if the arrangement with the museum goes well he may consider growing more popcorn. A demand for the product has been created that reaches far beyond Peoria County.

"We ship some to Texas and Ohio right now," said Cody Blunier. "They have friends in Peoria that have it and they'll get together around the holidays and pop it and it just goes from there."

The question is: where does the Blunier's growing popcorn business go from here?

They run a family farm with no outside help. And soon, when Peoria's Riverfront Museum opens, their popcorn will be one of the featured attractions.

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