The National Cornbread Festival

When your in disaster mode, sometimes you just have to take a step back.  
Maybe it’s because your afraid your going to be blown up …..


Maybe it’s because the sadness of other’s loss really breaks your heart.
But mostly it is because you are exhausted….

And you just need a little bit of normalcy in your life so that you know everything will be OK.

Madeline working away ….
{she took her own break in the form of a soccer game taking out her aggression on the other team’s goalie!}
Go Maddie!
You have to just love Maddie’s white & pink socks!
Bradley enjoyed his time away from clean up as well and saved the day in the form of goalie!
After three days of clean-up around the community, my oldest two girls came to me begging to go to the Cornbread Festival.  They were swift to remind me that they had volunteered to work in the children’s area and that it would be horrible to back out.


Samantha and MacKenzie


{They really know how to tug at your conscience.}


Samantha with her friend, Taylor
South Pittsburg, Tennessee (just 8 miles from our home in Northeast Alabama) was unaffected by tornados, so they chose to go on with the National Cornbread Festival, donating a portion of the proceeds to the Red Cross for disaster relief.

Needing a short break myself (and wanting to check on my girls), I ventured down to the festival to catch the Cornbread cook-off (which is just so interesting to watch).  When you watch cook-offs on Food Network, or Top Chef you only see part of the action.  It actually takes several hours to create the dishes that the networks show in a matter of minutes.  Sponsored by Lodge Manufacturing, Martha White, and cooking ranges donated by 5-star this is serious competition worthy of a Food Network spot!


Several of this years competitors have competed (and won in past competitions).  As I have mentioned before, this is NOT your grandmothers cornbread, especially with ingredients like fresh basil, shrimp, spinach, apples, maple, fresh-squeezed orange juice, onion, and balsamic drizzle (not all in the same recipe…).   I am just amazed at the combinations of ingredients that form the many cornbread dishes!

I enjoyed watching the chefs mix, cut, dice, stir and cook their delightful dishes, and wished I were a judge to taste the fabulous food heading off to the judges tent!





Presentation is part of the battle




While waiting on the results of the cook-off, MacKenzie and another friend of mine walked around for a few minutes sampling some of the fabulous fare on the streets.


Chocolate dipped local strawberries anyone?

from Cooper’s Farm in Marion County, Tennessee

Or how about some fresh Kettle Corn?


Of course no trip to the festival is complete without a stop at Cornbread Alley!

{Oh my goodness!}



As we walked around we heard such a wonderful variety of local musicians playing their brand of bluegrass and country music.



And some of the crafts were quite charming.


Need a good laugh?  Yeah, we found that too watching a Buttermilk chugging contest.

And the anticipation of hearing who won the Cornbread cook-off was high.


Mrs. Jennifer Beckman of Falls Church, Virginia took that honor with her Tennessee Onion Soup Gratin, and was quite excited (so were her children)!



Of course, if I knew that I had just won $5000 and a brand new 5-star range, I would be excited, too!

You can go the National Cornbread Festival page here and find all of the recipes.

And if you think this festival is just a little small town affair; PBS, Southern Living, Taste of Home and other national rags do not!  PBS was there filming for a special to air in September, and Southern Living was there photographing for their magazine.



Donna Florio from Southern Living

Judges for the Cornbread Cook-off included the food editors Betty Terry and Donna Florio for Taste of Home and Southern Living respectively, Linda Carmen from Martha White, and food writers from the Birmingham News and Nashville .

{It’s a big deal!}

Audley has been trying to convince me to enter for a couple of years, but I am a B.I.G. chicken!  If I thought he would try a cornbread dish made with gourmet ingredients, I might play around with it. But IN AUDLEY’S WORLD cornbread accompanies pinto beans, pork roast, soup, or a variety of other traditional southern dishes, and should be served only topped with butter and NEVER contain sugar I don’t see me making the cut.

How do you like your cornbread?

Provided I still have internet (it’s a come and go thing right now), I’ll share my favorite with you later this week!  Audley is out of town, so I can get away with it!

{And yes, it will be cooked in a Lodge Cast Iron Skillet}


5 thoughts on “The National Cornbread Festival

  1. Jen, first of all, I'm so glad that you went to the festival. Stepping back helps a lot. Don't hesitate to step back again when you need to. Audley is so right. You should give this a whirl. Why not? It'd be fun and you definitely would have the presentation thing down pat. (How do I like my cornbread? Sweet. Sorry…)


  2. hi jennifer!

    thank you for the lovely expose on your cornbread cookoff.
    it was so fun to see it up close like that. i imagine it was
    very therapeutic for you to see beautiful, delicious things
    after the devastation.

    our prayers are with you.


  3. Oh this looks like so much fun! I've always wanted to attend a cook off and I would love to sample all those varieties of cornbread! On a more serious note, my heart & prayers go out to everyone in Alabama that is struggling with the aftermath of those tornadoes. I hope your damage was not too extensive.


  4. Pingback: Vinegar Braised Chicken w/ Leeks & Peas | Fiddle Dee Dee

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