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Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Emerson PurpleHull Pea Festival and Rotary Tiller Races Celebrate 25 Years.

There are festivals for large things in Arkansas, like watermelons. There are festivals for medium-sized things like peaches and apples and even cornbread. But, the one festival held the furthest south in our state happens to celebrate the smallest Arkansas food product -- the tiny PurpleHull pea.

On June 28th, the residents of the small town of Emerson will once again welcome the masses to town for the 25th Annual Emerson PurpleHull Pea Festival and World Championship
Rotary Tiller Races. And if you’re looking for a hotter festival to attend, you’ll have a hard time finding one. Not only does the festival invariably take place during one of the most blistering hot weekends of the year — but it really steams and bubbles with excitement… just like a good pot of peas on the stove.

That’s OK, though. There are so many ways to cool off.

For one, the annual Pea Feast is held in the local school cafeteria, where diners can splurge on PurpleHull peas, cornbread, stewed tomatoes, onions, peppers and peach cobbler all served with sweet tea
while watching the finals of the Great PurpleHull Pea and Cornbread Cookoff (there’s also a peach cobbler cookoff, too) and the World Cup PurpleHull Pea Shelling Competition, all in air conditioned splendor.

For two, there are popsicle vendors and homemade ice cream offered outside, especially for folks planning to catch the world renown Million Tiller Parade.

And for three, veterans of this grand event know to bring a sunshade (and they’ll often share) at the World Championship Rotary Tiller Races — which are a sight to behold.

If that’s not enough for you, stick around for the evening for a youth talent contest, the annual fireworks show and the Pea-Stompin’ Dance. So much to do, see and experience just six miles north of the Louisiana border. For more information, check out the festival website or Facebook — and to revisit my 2012 experience, check out this entry from 2012.

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