So that's about all Emerson is known for and it most probably would have stayed that way except for one resident, Glen Eades. Glen was bored. Emerson was mostly boring - so boring there was no police department. Glen had an idea - a festival honoring the one delicacy grown in every garden worth calling a garden, the purple hull pea. And so, after discussing it and eventually convincing the area's most influential residents, the annual Emerson Purple hull Pea Festival was begun. Glen, being a fella with no lack of ideas, soon had another stroke of brilliance - what instrument does every gardener have? A rotor tiller. And thus the World Championship Rotary Tiller Race was added to the Pea Festival. If you haven't had a mess of purple hull peas with 'maters and cornbread, then you haven't tasted down-home southern cooking at its finest and if you haven't seen somebody till 200 feet of dirt in about 6 seconds, then you haven't seen tilling at its fastest!
Due to work commitments and the fact Mamma-woman and Youngest-daughter wanted to attend the festival (actually Youngest-daughter didn't really want to go, but she only gets 1/2 a vote and the parents wanted to go so...), we couldn't make it for the Friday Senior Day festivities and that was a shame. I didn't get to participate in the "Senior Walk For World Peas," I didn't get a free purple hull pea lunch (free for those of us who have survived 55 or more years), we didn't get to hear the Dudneywood Silver Hair Choir, and we didn't get to see the Purple hull Pea Festival 'Pea-tacular' Fireworks show.
|Thanks for the friendly greeting and talk, Jane!|
|Cool festival t-shirt|
We made our way out of the cafeteria and along a covered walkway beside what we later discovered was the gym and as we turned to the left, the whole festival came into view. There were a few kids rides, but it was mostly folks selling watermelons and cantaloupe along with the normal totally unhealthy, but oh so tasty festival fare such as deep fried chocolate, turkey legs, funnel cakes and Bar-B-Que.
We walked down several blocks and came to the field of battle - the site of the world's fastest garden tillers. The field is 200 feet of brown Arkansas dirt. The tillers are no ordinary tillers. Oh they started life as a tiller, but with modified motorcycle engines powering them now, they barely resemble their former purpose. Imagine if you can, a person running behind, barely hanging on is much more like it, as a tiller churns through dirt at up to 24 miles per hour (the world record as of this year), throwing up dust and dirt clods all over the place and sounding like a herd of angry bees. Unique among motor sports, this is the super bowl of the tiller racing season. Of course, as far as is known, the tiller racing circuit consists of this one race, so it's kind of an easy thing to proclaim.
You have to really be fleet of foot to keep
up with the tiller!
|Interesting tiller train|
|After the race|
|Tractor barrel race - not as easy as it looks!|
The tractor show, kids bicycle races and tractor barrel racing which came afterwards was a little boring in comparison. Not so much for the parents of the entrants I'm sure and I reckon you could look at as a way to calm down and get ready for the "Million Tiller Parade" coming along a bit later.
Before long, it was time for lunch. Rather than buy festival food from the vendors, we decided to go back to the cafeteria and for $6 per plate, have the purple hull pea lunch. That was the best decision we made since deciding to come here. A mess of peas cooked perfectly, served with a couple of slices of vine ripened tomato's, fresh onions and hot peppers from area gardens, 2 slices of corn bread, and a generous helping of some of the best peach cobbler I've had in a long, long time, all home-made by women who really know how to cook. A glass of iced tea to wash it all down and that there was some darn good eatin'!
|Born to be mild!|
At 2:00 o'clock came the much anticipated World Cup Purple hull Pea Shelling Competition. If you don't know how, it's pretty simple really. Slit one end of the pea pod and just slide your thumb down the length to release the peas. Of course, knowing how to toss and catch a baseball in your backyard doesn't exactly qualify you to play in the major leagues and it's the same here. This is THE world cup competition and you might as well not even try it unless you can slit and spill peas so fast your fingers can't be seen. Evidently all that time when Emerson is so boring, folks sit around shelling purple hull peas!
I have to say by this time, the sun was beating down without mercy and it was hotter 'n heck so we retreated to the gym (not air conditioned, but they did have a bunch of big fans going) to peruse the arts and crafts. After browsing all of the tables and a jar of salsa and a hot pad holder purchase later, it was time to head to the next event.
Yes, we came home with a jar of purple hull
pea jelly. And it wasn't bad at all!
Reluctantly, we had to take our goodies back to the truck and head on home. Sad to say we missed out on the Pea Plant judging and I'm sure the Pea Stompin' Street Dance featuring The Dick's Hat Band later that night was a hoot. Maybe next year we'll book a room somewhere close and enjoy the whole weekend. Mamma-woman said, "That was fun!" Youngest-daughter said she had a good time and was glad she came after all. Me? Well, I'm already looking forward to another purple hull pea lunch plate!