The Emerson PurpleHull Pea Festival and World Championship Rotary Tillar Races take place the last weekend of each June. It’s a weekend filled with all sorts of fun, from pea shelling and pea tasting to dances and fireworks and a parade and so forth. It’s a classic Arkansas festival in its 21st year, and let me tell you what -- it’s a hot place to be, in the sense of it’s a great place to be.
I was around back in 2009 for the day, and I enjoyed the celebration of the cookout, watched the shelling competition, observed the tiller racing and dined on a fine Pea Feast. I was looking forward to sharing that celebration again, this time with my daughter Hunter.
Now, Hunter is three (she’ll be sure to point out she’s three and a half, thank you very much) and fair as Snow White. She burns easily and she gets hot, but she’s a real trooper. I decided this year’s event was dependent on her; when she said it was time to go, it’d be time to go.
Hunter almost immediately won a drawing that she was entered in upon arrival and obtained a set of markers and a pack of colored construction paper, which made her happier than a dead pig in the sunshine. It also gave her something to do while I snapped away photos of all the goodies on the table.
When they were done, the prizes were announced. We were all quite surprised that no one entered a condiment this year... but that was all right... there were other prizes to be awarded. Best salsa went to Marla Hanson of Emerson. Donnie Griffin of Emerson took the prize for best cobbler. Jane Freppon of Emerson won for best cornbread.
There was a bit of a media frenzy when Doeleta Weaver Rome took to the stage -- she holds the record for the most peas shelled in the competition, with more than 17 ounces in one sitting. That’s more than a pound!
Geauxsicles -- one of which we obtained for sampling. The one we had was called a Lemondrop. It was a blend of sugar, buttermilk, lemon juice and zest and who knows what else. It was good. We sat on the grass with Hunter’s parasol for shade and enjoyed every bit of it.
Afterwards she got her time in the bouncy house, and we bought an inflatable pony from one of the vendors. And then she looked up at me and told me “Mamma, it’s really hot. I’m hot.” And I knew it was time to go. As much as I love seeing those tillers race, it was time to find the air conditioning.