Grammy Award winner Billy Dean has been confirmed as the entertainer who will promote the Cowpea event this year.
Dean has had 11 top-10 singles on the country charts, selling over 4-million albums.
“Somewhere in My Broken Heart” was voted the Academy of Country Music’s song of the year in 1992. He was also 1992’s New Male Vocalist of the Year and has had numerous other awards and distinctions bestowed upon him during his career.
Organizers said the International Cowpea Festival and Cook-off is presented by Bush Brothers and Company as well as others who sponsored the inaugural event in 2012.
The festival was the brainchild of members of the Charleston-Calhoun-Hiwassee Historical Society and others.
“It’s a unique festival which incorporates a piece of agricultural history and we celebrate it with this truly Southern, fun-filled event in the Charleston Park,” said Melissa Woody, vice president of the Cleveland-Bradley Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitor’s Bureau as well as a member of CCHHS.
The tiny cowpea was the inspiration for the idea to formulate and produce a festival.
The pea was mass produced in Charleston and distributed to many destinations in the U.S. and abroad.
“Cowpea” is the general name for more than 50 varieties of peas including the crowder, black-eyed, purple-hull, silver-hull, field, southern and other pea varieties scientifically known as vigna unguiculata.
“This unique festival is a great way to recognize an authentic agri-heritage as well as a truly Southern food that is a big part of our Southern diet,” said Darlene Goins, treasurer for the Charleston-Calhoun-Hiwassee Historical Society and festival co-chair. “Charleston is just full of surprises, and the fact that the small community was a major exporter of this staple on our tables is another interesting chapter in Charleston’s story.”
Pageantry, storytelling of the history of the Cowpea, arts and crafts, children’s events, information booths, food and of course, samplings of the Cowpea creations are in store for this year’s visitors.
During the inaugural year, it was estimated several thousand people milled Charleston City Park, enjoying the day and its events.
Music and events are held throughout the day, keeping visitors busy.
The Olin Family Fun Field will feature games, a petting zoo and air toys, and a marketplace will offer arts and crafts, fresh produce and other goods. Food vendors will have concessions available. The festival website www.cowpeafestival.com includes detailed information about all the activities, as well as deadlines and registration information and guidelines for the pageant and other competitions.
Leading up to the event, Homestead Lawn & Tractor Co. and CPQ Professional Imaging Inc. are sponsoring a photo competition focusing on agriculture and landscape. The competition will spotlight amateur photographers and work will be displayed at the new Hiwassee River Heritage Center in Charleston for an exhibit period. Competition details and deadlines are available at www.cowpeafestival.com.
Charleston is just full of surprises, and the fact that the small community was a major exporter of this staple on our tables is another interesting chapter in Charleston’s story.
Whirlpool will return as sponsor of the Cowpea Cookoff, where professional and amateur chefts prepare the peas in a number of ways.
Audience participation is encouraged in the judging of the professional division.
The first 500 people to purchase a souvenir spoon for $5, will be eligible for voting.
Cook-off rules are on the www.cowpeafestival.com website.
In addition to the sponsors already mentioned, festival organizers have recently welcomed Wampler’s Farm Sausage, Crown Chrysler Dodge Jeep, Resolute Forest Products, Piggly Wiggly, Haney Meat Company, Ace Hardware and Farm Bureau and Companion Funeral Home.
Sponsorships are still available and needed. Proceeds of the festival support the operations of the newly-opened Hiwassee River Heritage Center in Charleston. Anyone interested in supporting this community effort should contact Melissa Woody at 423-472-6587 or Darlene Goins at 423-413-8284.