published Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Off the Couch: Ramp Tramp Festival is a load of fun

BARRY COURTER: Lisa, there are a couple of festivals on the horizon that I’m thinking you are likely interested in. South Pittsburg is hosting the National Cornbread Festival on Saturday and Sunday, and there is another big event in Polk County this weekend that has your name written all over it. Can you guess what it is?

LISA DENTON: Har-de-har. Now who’s name-calling? At least Butterbean was a term of endearment. Don’t make me teach you a Soddy karate lesson.

For your information, the Ramp Tramp Festival is named for the mountain hike to harvest wild onions. They dig ’em up, clean ’em up, cook ’em up and finally serve ’em up on Saturday, along with generous helpings of bluegrass music at the Polk County 4-H Camp in Reliance.

Bluegrass is also part of the proceedings at the Cornbread Festival, with Rhonda Vincent & The Rage headlining on Sunday. You can also find cornbread-eating and buttermilk-chugging contests, if you want to take your appetite and head to South Pittsburg.

BARRY: Whatever do you mean? I just know how much you like diggin’ up wild onions, that’s all. Ramps, for those not from around here, are a wild leek or onion, and people love them. Not only do they go well with bluegrass, they’re pretty good in omelets or with pinto beans and cornbread.

It occurs to me that we’ve gotten a lot of calls from people who have recently moved here, and both of these events would be a great way for newbies, especially folks from up North, to get a good taste of how we do things.

LISA: Taste being the key word there. The folks in South Pittsburg have a neat setup they call Cornbread Alley, where you can pay one price for nine samples of cornbread-based goodies. This year’s sampler includes Cornbread Pizza, Deep-Fried Sweet Potato Tots and Pineapple Cream Cheese Cornbread Cake.

In Polk County, the menu is more limited, but where else do you get the chance to feast on a plate of fried ramps in eggs, fried potatoes, streaked meat, white beans and cornbread? That there’s a Mayberry meal.

BARRY: A plate of Polk County heaven. A sip or two of that clear stuff that is served in a Mason jar would make it perfect. Or a glass of buttermilk. Actually, I’m kidding about the buttermilk. I know some folks soak their cornbread in it, but I just can’t do it.

We should also mention that Leftover Salmon, the legendary jam band that took some time off, is back together and will play at Track 29 on Thursday.

LISA: And don’t forget that the Tennessee Aquarium is celebrating its 20th anniversary Saturday with Party at the Peaks and the opening of its new “River Giants” exhibit. National Geographic’s Zeb Hogan will be the special guest.

For event information, read Current every Friday in the Times Free Press or visit

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

about Lisa Denton...

Lisa Denton is deputy features editor and content editor of Current. She previously was a lifestyle, entertainment and region reporter/pod leader for The Chattanooga Times, which she joined in 1983. Lisa is from Sale Creek and holds an associate’s degree in journalism from Chattanooga State Community College. Contact Lisa at 423-757-6281 or

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