I’ve been to a lot of food festivals during the course of my food blogging days. But none quite like the National Cornbread Bread Festival. Yes! A cornbread festival! I know what you’re asking how in the world did I find out about this festival? Well it kind of started with my mom. She an avid cast iron skillet user and she LOVES Lodge Cast Iron products. I emailed Lodge to inquire about tours of their foundry. I thought my mom might really enjoy seeing where and how her beloved cast iron skillets are made. To be honest, I wanted to know too! The response I got back from Lodge was that they only have tours once a year, during the National Cornbread Festival! Say what?!?! That was my exact reaction when I read their email. Now when I tell my mother about this cornbread festival she flips out. She’s like where is it?!?? Let’s gooooo!!!
Upon further research, I find out that the National Cornbread Festival is in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, home of Lodge Cast Iron since 1896. This festival is a pretty big deal. Like a huge deal!! The festival got its start in 1998 and with a strong community of 3,300 people it’s been going on for the last 22 years. This celebration of cornbread also included a cornbread cook-off and several cooking demonstrations.
It didn’t take much to decide that this 8 hour road trip was going to happen. And that it did! We made our hotel reservations and we were on our way!
Upon the suggestions of previous festival goers, arriving early was your best bet to avoid the traffic. So we did just that and arrived at about 8:30 AM. We were able to get there with ease as well as score a great parking space.
After entering the festival, we grabbed a festival guide that also included a scavenger hunt. Fun! The hunt had you stopping at various stations to try different cornbread and to get a stamp. Once you got 10 stamps you brought it back to claim a prize. I earned a National Cornbread Festival pin for my cornbread eating efforts. Yay!
As we walked further into the festival we saw a long line forming. My mom got in the line while I went to investigate. I found that the Martha White tent was giving away some pretty awesome prizes. When it was our turn to turn the wheel, we were all winners! I won a Lodge Cast Iron Scraper. Very useful! My daughter won a Martha White apron. And my mom won a Lodge Cast Iron trivet. Nice!
The next tent was housed by Cracker Barrel. They too had a wheel of prizes to win. My daughter was the big winner snagging a cute mini cast iron skillet. We were already loving this festival and it had only been like 45 minutes!
Next we stopped by the Lodge Cast Iron Photo Booth to snap a few pictures!
Then we continue our scavenger and ate some more CORNBREAD! We also stopped along the way to check out all of the amazing vendors there selling lots of handcrafted items. Then it was time to enter CORNBREAD ALLEY!! I had read so much about it so I was really excited. When you enter Cornbread Alley you are given a plate and a napkins. With your plate in hand, you then continue to a line of several tents. Each tent has a group that has made their version of cornbread. After walking by and picking up each one, you sit down and eat it. Then you pick and vote for your favorite. There were some very interesting creations. I had a couple favorites that I will definitely be making since they were all so kind to provide their recipes as well.
Now for the icing on the cake. We save the best for last. We now headed to the Lodge Cast Iron Foundry to take a tour! This place is HUGE!!! Along our self guided tour there were several stops with videos to tell us what we were looking at. There were also a few employees there to talk and explain things to us too. It was an amazing experience.
After the tour, we headed next door for a little shopping in the Lodge Cast Iron Outlet Store. We were going to be in here for a while. My mom LOVES anything cast iron! After shopping every inch of the store we left with a few bags of Lodge Cast Iron products. Crazy!!
The National Cornbread Festival was so much fun! So glad I was able to go and share the experience with my mom and daughter. For updates on next year’s festival visit www.nationalcornbread.com! It happens the last full weekend in April every year! Save the date for 2019!