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VOL. 43 | NO. 17 | Friday, April 26, 2019

Cornbread Festival brings crowds to S. Pittsburg this weekend

By Jim Myers

Print | Front Page | Email this story

23rd National Cornbread Festival

Where: South Pittsburg

When: April 27 & 28

Cost: $7

Information

When the Highway 72 bypass cut between the town of South Pittsburg and the Tennessee River, Bob Kellerman knew they would need something special besides Lodge to lure folks into the charming town.

It wasn’t a “Eureka” moment, but more of a cornbread epiphany that led folks to create a festive homage to humble southern bread.

Now in its 23rd year, the National Cornbread Festival regularly pulls in between 20,000-30,000 visitors during the last weekend in April, surely stretching the all-volunteer corps of helpers in a town of only 3,000 recorded inhabitants.

The lynchpin of the festivities is the cook off, in which participants stir their hopes for recipe glory before a live audience and inscrutable judges. The winner goes home with cash, a new stove and big bad bragging rights for making a cornbread dish that could truly stand out in fierce competition.

The festival also boasts a “cornbread alley,” at which local civic groups ply passersby with samples. The public can pay to vote for the crowd favorite and the money goes directly to charities.

Overall the festival has raised more than $1 million since its inception, with 30 cents on the dollar going to teachers at the local schools, a welcome windfall in these days of budget cuts.

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