Burkville, Alabama’s annual Okra Festival sustains its rural community in more ways than one.
by Amanda Burleigh
The 10th annual Okra Festival will be held in Burkville, Alabama, on August 28 this year. What started as a neighborhood party thrown by two friends in Lowndes County has blossomed into an annual festival drawing thousands of people to this small town located outside Montgomery.
“Everybody in my little community grows the mighty okra, which we call ‘the peoples’ vegetable,’” says festival co-founder Barbara Evans. “It’s like us, strong, Southern, can withstand anything and keep going.”
After the success of the first festival, Evans says townspeople wanted it to continue.
“Local people cook all kinds of food, from pig ear sandwiches to gumbo. Okra is fried, steamed, stewed, boiled and used in art,” she says. But that’s not all. Festival goers will also find okra casseroles, hors d’oeuvres, pie and pickled okra. Sunny Boy King, a local bluesman, has been performing from Evans’ front porch, located on the festival grounds, since the second year. Vendors sell art, preserves and crafts, and there is even the occasional yard sale. “One year we had pony rides, but it was just too hot for the ponies,” says Evans, pictured
Cultural forces align in South Louisiana for a weekend of the best in Southern art & brew.
by Erin Z. Bass Each year in February, the Acadiana Center for the Arts in downtown Lafayette posts a call for artists for its annual juried exhibition, the Southern Open. Artists in all mediums living in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and Florida can submit up to 10 pieces of work. A juror from the regional art world is chosen to judge, and the competition begins. In May, the exhibit opens, showcasing a sort of who's who in Southern art, and an overall winner is chosen. Then, in July, the center closes out the summer with Gulf Brew, where visitors to Lafayette can sample the best brews in the Gulf South.
The intersection of these two events this upcoming weekend is a great excuse to make a trip over to South Louisiana. Southern Open juror Bill Arning, director of the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston, and art center Curator Brian Guidry have assembled an exhibit that will make viewers rethink their definition of "Southern art." From a freestanding wall painted with a Confederate flag and another wall posted with "to do" lists from residents all over the
A Southerner returns home from the North and brings her tea punch with her.
by Erin Z. Bass
When Leslie McKinney Bass moved to Chicago from Nashville 22 years ago, she had no idea she’d miss the South so much. Blues music and the sounds of banjo and harmonica drifting from the city’s streets helped to ease her homesickness, but “I always longed for home and whenever I heard that music, there was a sense of place, sky, water, seasons,” she says. “I missed that romantic part of being in the South.”
It was a recipe passed down from her grandmother that gave Bass a way to “sip her blues away.” With a base of lime and orange juice, tea punch was a staple in the Bass family. “We would have Sunday lunch at my grandmother’s after church and we always drank it there,” Bass says. “I think I was, out of my four sisters, the one that gulped it down the most because I really liked all that sugar in there.”
While grandmother Polly had her own guarded recipe for the punch, so did her friends and neighbors. In Nashville, tea punch was served all over town. “Our national bank had something
A Southern Barbecue Favorite serves up an otherworldly eating experience. By Debi Lander
There's a little joint in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, that just seats 68, but its reputation is known far and wide. Dreamland BBQ boasts the motto, "Ain't Nothin' Like 'Em Nowhere," and I reckon that's true.
I recently visited the place and met Jeannette Bishop, the current owner and daughter of now-deceased originator John C. Bishop and his wife, Lilly. The Bishops opened their establishment back in 1958. John had purchased the land and considered building a cafe and funeral home. He figured if the food gave his patrons high blood pressure, he'd end up burying them. His wife flatly refused that notion, so John built the drive-thru rib joint. Wonder if the name came from his funereal plans or, as Jeannette (pictured at bottom) says, "God just whispered it into his ear."
No matter, the barbeque sauce is so renowned and tasty that a plate of white Sunbeam bread comes to every table, just so you can sop it up. The slabs of barbeque ribs are cooked in an open pit for 45 minutes or there's smoked sausage and pulled pork. Up until a year ago, that was the extent of the
Cool off with ice cream made right here in the South.
by Erin Z. Bass A big bowl of ice cream can’t help but cool you down, even on the hottest of days, and lucky for us, there’s no shortage of producers in the South. (Or shortage of indigenous flavors like maple bacon brittle, blackberry cobbler or Creole cream cheese.) From one of the best-selling ice creams in the country (does “Have Yourself a Blue Bell Country Day” ring a bell?) to smaller companies like New Orleans Ice Cream, Wright Dairy in Alabama or Leopold’s in Savannah, Georgia, there’s probably a local ice cream shop around the corner no matter where you live. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best, but if we left out your favorite, let us know!
If you really feel the need to scream for ice cream, events like the Austin Ice Cream Festival next month are the way to go. The fifth-annual event has a screaming contest, ice cream eating and making contests and popsicle stick sculptures. Could you ask for more?
Started on a hot summer day in Brenham, Texas, Blue Bell Creameries opened its doors in 1907. First delivered to neighbors by horse
As July 4 approaches, there's no better place than Alabama's beaches for fireworks and fun.
by Erin Z. Bass On June 18, Alabama announced the launch of a new advertising campaign featuring celebrity chef Lucy Buffett, who asks vacationers to "Come on, get back to the beaches we all love." Buffett owns Lulu's on the Intracoastal Waterway in Gulf Shores and is the sister of beach crooner Jimmy Buffett. Her restaurant has become a hot spot in the area, and no trip to Gulf Shores or Orange Beach is complete without some Lower Alabama Caviar, a Cheeseburger in Paradise and Lulu's Rum Punch overlooking the water. With live music every day of the week in the summertime and an art market on Saturdays, you may want to visit Lulu's more than once during your trip. As Lulu herself will tell you, her restaurant is just one example of hometown places that give Gulf Shores/Orange Beach its charm. Everybody's got their favorites, whether it be cheesecake at Hope's just over the bridge from Lulu's, pancakes at Tacky Jack's, shopping at Tallulah's or the outlet mall in Foley. We know many of you are skeptical about a beach vacation where the beach could possibly
Tubing, hiking, waterfalls, wine and ultimately cooler temperatures await in Georgia's Blue Ridge Mountains.
by Deanna Kuder
We are close to shattering the record for the hottest summer in recorded history as I look at the Georgia map. It’s hard to ignore the big spot of green at the top, beckoning me to cool off in the mountain air. As I answered the call and headed for the north Georgia mountains, the main goal was escaping the heat, but what I found was a mecca of entertainment for the entire family and a playground to please every budget, age and activity level.
Helen, Georgia, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains along the shores of the Chattahoochee River, launched its transformation into an Alpine village in 1969. Local business owners began to revitalize their mountain paradise by turning it into a Bavarian village. Faces of the buildings are now adorned with delicate gingerbread trim, intricate plaster relief and detailed scenes of Bavaria. And in keeping with the theme, visitors will find shopkeepers decked out in lederhosen and dirndls.
Upon entering the Welcome Center, a helpful attendant was on the phone being quizzed about the weather. It was 90 degrees in town, but at home
A comforting weeknight recipe that incorporates everybody's favorite soda pop.
We've been wanting to add more recipes to Deep South for a while now and would like to thank the folks at The Hungry Southerner blog for their hospitality in sharing one with us today. Their site is a wonderful place to find homegrown stories about Southern products and businesses and, of course, Southern food. And their tagline, "Stay Hungry, Y'all!" pretty much embodies what we love to do most here in the Deep South: eat - and talk about - food.
Hungry Southerner's recipe for Coca-Cola Glazed Meatloaf is perfect for a Sunday supper. In addition to its use of one our favorite Southern products, Coca-Cola, or Co-Cola as it's often called down here, this recipe and quick and fairly easy. A Coca-Cola glaze results in a sweet, sticky crust on top, taking this meatloaf to the next level. Serve with some mashed potatoes and a veggie, and you've got a delicious meal to enjoy while you talk about the next one.
Southern Meatloaf with Coca-Cola Glaze
1 lb ground turkey
1 lb ground beef 80/20
2 cups whole wheat bread crumbs
1/2 large white onion, finely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 T
Starting this weekend, the State Fair of Texas delivers big on food and fun in the “Fried Food Capital of Texas.”
by Amanda Burleigh
Bigger is better at the annual State Fair of Texas. This year is sure to bring bigger crowds, bigger attractions, bigger calories and bigger fun to Fair Park in Dallas.
“This year’s theme is super-sized fun,” says Sue Gooding, vice president of public relations for the State Fair of Texas, “and we’ll have lots of food and fun ready for opening day.” With crowds 4 million strong to feed, food has always been a major player in the popularity of the State Fair of Texas, especially since the “corny dog” was introduced there in 1942 by the Fletcher brothers. Although there is some dispute over who invented this American favorite, the brothers are traditionally credited with popularizing it, and their descendants now sell roughly 500,000 of these portable products every year. A more recent trend for vendors has been to come up with new and exotic foods to fry. This year’s menu of creations includes fried chocolate, fried lemonade and the winner of the “Best Taste Award” — Fried Texas Frito Pie (pictured).
Looking for something a bit lighter? Try Fernie’s