For two days each spring, the number of visitors to small-town South Pittsburg, Tenn., doubles the population when the National Cornbread Festival is held.
This highly popular event, which takes place Saturday-Sunday, April 29-30, offers more than 40 musical acts, a national cornbread cook-off, crafts and food vendors, classic car cruise-in and kids activity area. Plus, there is plenty of good, old-fashioned fun such as a cornbread-eating contest, buttermilk chug, ice cream-eating contest and 5K race.
The highlight of every year's festival is the National Cornbread Cook-Off, sponsored by Lodge Cast Iron. It's a search of the nation for the best original main-dish cornbread recipe.
If you go
› What: National Cornbread Festival
› Where: Cedar Avenue in South Pittsburg, Tenn.
› When: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. CDT Saturday, April 29; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. CDT Sunday, April 30
› Admission: $7 per day to festival, $5 Cornbread Alley
› For more information: 423-837-0022
The winner of this year's cook-off will be announced Saturday at 5 p.m. at the First Volunteer Stage. Along with the coveted cast-iron skillet crown, the cook-off champ wins $5,000, a 30-inch stainless-steel gas range from FiveStar Professional Cooking Equipment and special gifts from Martha White and Lodge Cast Iron.
The second-place cook wins $1,500 and third-place receives $1,000. The remaining two finalists walk away with $150.
Country singer Keith Anderson is the featured performer for this year's Cornbread Festival. Appropriately, his latest song is "I'll Bring the Music," which is just what he'll do.
His 2005 debut CD, "Three Chord Country and American Rock & Roll," notched two Top 10 hits, "Pickin' Wildflowers" and "Every Time I Hear Your Name," along with two Top 30 singles, "XXL" and "Podunk."
He is a talented songwriter whose song "Lost In This Moment" was a No. 1 hit for Big & Rich, and garnered Anderson CMA and ACM nominations for Song of the Year. He co-wrote "Beer Run" for Garth Brooks and George Jones, "The Bed" for Gretchen Wilson and "Barn Burner" for Jason Michael Carroll.
Tours of historic homes in South Pittsburg and of Lodge Cast Iron Factory are being held this weekend in conjunction with the festival.
And don't leave town without making a trip through Cornbread Alley. A $5 ticket entitles you to a taste of nine cornbread dishes homemade by community organizations of South Pittsburg. All proceeds raised at Cornbread Alley benefit local nonprofits.
For a full schedule of events, check the website: nationalcornbread.com.