by Kat Robinson
That there would be Linda Miller, the winner of the pea cooking competition (and the condiment contest, and the original pea dish contest) and Billie Samples, the winner of the cornbread cookoff, at the PurpleHull Pea Festival today in Emerson.
Competition was tough. How do I know? Because after the morning competitions, the entrants and those who had gathered to witness the proceedings were allowed to sample the entries. There were some mean good eatin' there -- cornbread of all shades of white to dark yellow (dry to sweet), unusual items like a Pea Zucchini Bread and Pea-Mole Dip (think guacamole, but with peas), and of course the peach cobblers (because what goes better with a pea dinner than peach cobbler?).
After the competitions, I wandered the block and a half from the Baptist Church where the cookoffs had been up to the school cafeteria, where folks of all ages were going after this year's title of World Cup Pea Shelling Winner. No surprise for many, Doeleta Weaver of Emerson managed to shell 7 5/8 ounces of peas in five minutes (that's nearly half a pound!) to claim that title again.
While shelling was taking place on stage, folks wandered over to the kitchen, plunked down their $6, and went in to be served up good food by the cafeteria ladies. Sure, there were peas, their sweetness better than any bean you might pull from a field, accompanied by slivers of onion and chunks of ripe tomato, a hunk of cornbread, and a slathering of peach cobbler on the side. There was margarine for the cornbread (really not necessary, you could taste the butter straight through) and peppers and salsa for folks who wanted to augment their dinner. And of course sweet and unsweet iced tea.
Boy, I tell you what... there's a lot more to tell, and I might get around to telling it. But I got whupped by the 100+ degree heat once I stepped out for the tiller parade and race. I will tell you there was a wipeout that ended better than could be expected, lots of interesting tractors and whatnots, and even a wedding. No joke. But I ache in all the wrong places and am about to go to bed. A great time... but quite exhausting, too.