CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Tucked away in the Ag Products Department at the Illinois State Fair is an 18-year-old who has created a dynasty with an undefeated record of grand championships.

Lauren Toohill of Heyworth has won five championships at the Illinois State Fair for her popcorn.


Stu Ellis: How do you do this year after year after year after year?

Lauren Toohill: Well, like I have always told you, I’m never going to share my secret with you. I know you’ve been begging for years, but I’m never going to tell you.

Stu Ellis: And that’s the case, I’ve heard that, this is the 5th time now we’ve heard this. But she’s got her popcorn that is on display, let’s talk a little bit about it. What kind is it?

Lauren Toohill: So the hybrid is called Puffy Pop. Obviously, it shows some really big ears and really big kernels. That has a lot to do with my secret, so.

Stu Ellis: Now, you grow this at home.

Lauren Toohill: The past years, I have been growing it here at the farm in Heyworth.

Stu Ellis: Are you using the same variety, year after year, then?

Lauren Toohill: Yeah. We started out with a variety called Top Pop, but we found this Puffy Pop and decided to try it and decided we like that better.

Stu Ellis: Now you are being judged on the ear; the quality of the ear, the uniformity of kernels and everything like that. Tell me how it pops. Does it provide a popcorn that is just as “purple ribbon quality” as it looks?

Lauren Toohill: Of course. I mean, come on now, you can’t doubt me like that.


Department Superintendent Robert Schafer also spoke about Toohill’s popcorn.

“She’s a winner. And she brings in good popcorn every year,” Schafer said. “She comes in with a smile and she leaves with a big grin because she’s been winning. And one year she didn’t show anything. We’re tickled to death to have her. We appreciate the young people coming.

We congratulate Lauren Toohill of Heyworth, just a young lady who had done something fabulous, not only in what she’s done to raise popcorn, but for the Illinois State Fair and the superintendent of the department is really proud of her as being a young person who comes back year after year with some champion produce.