Two Southeast Tennessee towns are paying homage to wild leeks of Appalachia, otherwise known as ramps, this weekend. Polk County residents will gather in the Greasy Creek community for the 57th annual Ramp Tramp Festival. Monroe County residents will head to Tellico Plains for their fourth annual Ramp Festival.
■ Polk County: It was in 1958 that a group of 4-H volunteers, 4-H members and young farmers and homemakers from Polk and Bradley counties first tramped up Big Frog Mountain to harvest and feast on the mountain herb. Although the trip up Big Frog is not a part of today's festival, the tradition continues in festival form with food, fun and fellowship at the Polk County 4-H Camp (Camp McCroy) in Reliance, Tenn.
The festival will kick off with Bluegrass & Beans on Friday night, April 25. Visitors can enjoy bluegrass and gospel music by County Line and Fredonia Bluegrass Band while they dine on white beans, fried potatoes, cornbread and raw ramps.
The main event kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 26, with a flag-raising by area veterans. The traditional meal of ramps in eggs, streaked meat, white beans, cornbread and potatoes will be served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Three bluegrass bands -- Playing on the Planet, The Misfits and Reliance -- will be featured at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., respectively. Vendors will display and sell handmade crafts. Door prizes will be given out throughout the day, and visitor awards for oldest, youngest, largest family and farthest traveled will be determined in the crowd.
The Polk County 4-H Camp is located 2.5 miles off Highway 64 on Highway 30 between Ocoee and Ducktown. Festival proceeds go to the operation and maintenance of the camp.
For more information call 423-338-4503 or visit www.ramptrampfestival.com.
■ Monroe County: The Ballplay Ruritan Club sponsors this family-friendly festival, which includes a ramp dinner of fried potatoes, eggs, pinto beans, cornbread, beverage and dessert. Cost is $8 for adults, $4 for children, and there's an option of hot dogs and chips, if desired.
Live music, vendors and community organizations will add to the festivities, which are planned from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 26. Dinner will be served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Proceeds benefit community projects in the Ballplay area. Events will be held rain or shine at 157 Ballplay School Road, Tellico Plains, a half-mile west of the intersection of Tennessee Highway 360 and Ballplay Road, about 10 miles north of the Cherohala Skyway. Admission is free. Call 423-295-2434 for more information.