EMERSON, AR - This small Columbia County town just south of Magnolia is celebrating the purplehull pea today and tomorrow.
It's the 24th year for Emerson's Annual PurpleHull Pea Festival and World Championship Rotary Tiller Race.
Billed as one of the south's most unique festivals, the PurpleHull Pea Festival celebrates a favorite local backyard garden delicacy and hosts the world's fastest garden tillers.
The event brings hundreds to a town where the local population is less than 400 residents. (Population 368 according to the 2010 census - a 2.5 percent increase from 2000).
A Little Pea Festival Info
The existence of the PurpleHull Pea Festival - and its tiller race as well - is due to one man.
In early 1990, Glen Eades decided his little community needed some shaking up.
"We were so boring we didn't even have a cop," said Glen. (Click here for more information about Glen and to read some locally famous newspaper columns he wrote.)
Glen started to work to gain support for his festival idea. He approached then-Mayor Joe Mullins about beginning a festival that would pay homage to the one major delicacy grown in many local backyard gardens. A meeting was called of some of the area's finest citizens. And thus, the PurpleHull Pea Festival was born.
At one of those early meetings, Glen proposed the idea of a tiller race. Mayor Mullins remembers thinking, "Glen, I don't know what you've been drinking, but you need to change brands."
Thankfully, Glen's ideas prevailed, and now Emerson is host to one of the most unusual - some would say weirdest - award-winning festivals in the South.
Story information and photos from the festival website (click here) and Facebook page (click here).
Click here for the festival schedule.
Click here for recipes using purplehull peas. Click here for information about the 20th anniversary cookbook, "20 Pea Pickin' Years."
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