Never a Dull Moment at Cornbread Festival, April 27-29



  • photoby Will Kirk, from

Here's just a partial list of the activities scheduled for the National Cornbread Festival. There's a run, a church service, a jam tent, a cornbread eating contest, a beauty contest, tours, arts and crafts, a 4-H cook-off, an auction, a street dance, a film and more. There's not a minute of the National Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg, Tenn., that isn't stuffed with activity.

The festival, April 27-29, showcases Lodge cookware, Martha White products, South Pittsburg (population 3,100) and Five Star ovens, made in nearby Cleveland, Tenn.

(Side note here: My oven is a Five Star, and not only is it a superior piece of equipment for the money, but the one time I needed help, an actual guy from Tennessee answered the helpline, then got in his truck and drove to my house. That's what they call customer service, right there.)

Cook-off finalists were announced last week, and they're from all over: two from North Carolina, two from Tennessee, two from West Virginia and, in an unusual twist, two from that legendary cornbread producing state, Connecticut.

The festival's Cornbread Alley lets you sample all the miraculous recipes and uses for cornbread that local organizations can devise. The result is a mix of traditional, unusual (Tooti Fruity Cornbread Balls, with pineapple and maraschino cherry) and others new but so smart you think "Why didn't I think of that? — like this recipe for Pork Puppies from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in South Pittsburg:

Pork Puppies
1 cup chopped cooked bacon
1 cup Martha White yellow self-rising cornmeal
½ cup Martha White all-purpose flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 large egg
¾ cup Mayfield buttermilk
½ cup minced jalapenos
½ cup sliced green onions
Canola oil for deep-frying

Whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and sugar in a bowl. Whisk the egg and milk in small bowl, then add to cornmeal mixture and stir until combined. Stir in bacon, scallions and Jalapenos, just until combined. Heat the oil in a fryer or deep skillet to 360-375 degrees. Carefully spoon 1 tablespoon portions of batter into the oil. Fry, turning occasionally, until golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Transfer pork puppies to a shallow baking pan and keep hot in oven while frying remaining batter.

South Pittsburg is a two-hour drive from Nashville on I-24 east. Festival hours here. A full schedule of events follows:

Entertainment and Activities Announced for the 16th Annual National Cornbread Festival

Friday, April 27: Street Dance – 7 p.m.
10 Most Wanted Band

Saturday, April 28 – Citizen State Park Stage
9 a.m.: RHMS Chorus
9:30 a.m.: 5K Race Results and Awards
10 a.m.: Dry Cornbread Eating Contest & Buttermilk Chug
10:15 a.m.: Heart & Soul Dance Studio
11 a.m.: Ashley Steel
11:45 a.m.: Dry Cornbread, Ice Cream eating contests and Buttermilk Chug contests
Noon: 2012 Miss National Cornbread Festival Contest Winner Announced
12:15 p.m.: Heirline
1 p.m.: Shasta's Cheer Center
2 p.m.: Lauren Lucas, Danny Myrick and Marc Beeson
3 p.m.: Kinsey Rose
4:30 p.m.: Dry Cornbread, Ice Cream eating contests and Butter Milk Chug
4:45 p.m.: National Cornbread Cook-off Winners Announced.

Saturday, Princess Theater
9 a.m.: SPES Chorus
10 a.m.: Chloe Litton
11 a.m.: South Pittsburg Historial Film
Noon: Tim Hughes Jazz Quartet
1 p.m.: South Pittsburg Historial Film
2 p.m.: Stones River Pilots

Saturday, Gazebo
9 a.m.: Roy Harper
11 a.m.: Heaven Seekers
Noon: Back Home
1 p.m.: Kinsey Rose
2 p.m.: Katha Harris
3 p.m.: Caitlin Pace
4 p.m.: Zarah Bryant

Sunday, April 29 – Citizen State Park Stage
8 a.m.: Ecumenical Church Services
9 a.m.: The Durhams
10 a.m.: Chloe Litton
10:45 a.m.: Dry Cornbread, Ice Cream eating contests and Butter Milk Chug
11 a.m.: Breaking Grass
Noon: On the Rock
1 p.m.: Rhonda Vincent and the Rage
2 p.m.: Mountain Cove Bluegrass Band
3 p.m.: Dry Cornbread, Ice Cream eating contests and Butter Milk Chug
3:15 p.m.: The LIFe Band featuring Bo Cox
4 p.m.: Celebrity Cornbread Cook-off Winners

Sunday, Princess Theater
9:30 a.m.: Scenic City
11 a.m.: Mountain Cove Bluegrass Band
Noon: South Pittsburg Historial Film
1 p.m.: Toby Headrick, Kelby Ferrell & Phillip Ownby
2 p.m.: South Pittsburg Historial Film
3 p.m.: Hilltoppers of Chattanooga

Sunday, Gazebo
9 a.m.: The New Binkley Brothers
11 Tyler Sweeton
Noon: Zach Dylan
1 p.m.: Randy Woody
2 p.m.: Pam Ragan-Peacock
3 p.m.: Hayley Michelle Tucker

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