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Sorguhm is still made here as it was a century ago  <img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click for full image
Travel Guide > North America > USA > Georgia > Blairsville > Climate & When to go

Sorghum Festival

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If you look, you can still find remnants of the soul of its early settlers, and the even earlier Cherokee, still alive and well here. The people of Union County still take pleasure in the old time get-togethers. Thus, in 1969, was born the sweetest festival in the country, The Sorghum Festival.  The time frame just happens to be the peak of the leaf-changing season The festival offers many of the mountain arts and crafts; dulcimer playing, buck dancing, log sawing and many others but the highlight of the festival is the production of sorghum.

Sorghum making is almost a lost art today but in pioneer times, sorghum was the upland South’s answer to sugar cane. In the mountains of Georgia, every village and many of the farms had a mill for producing the thick sweet syrup similar to molasses. Today, there are less than thirty.

Sorghum made its debut in the United States in the 1850s from France. It had come there from China. It took hold in the mountainous Appalachian area. By 1860, Georgia was the fourth largest producer of the sticky sweetener in the United States. With the advent of supermarkets and packaged sugar, the need for sorghum diminished until it has become part of the lost culture of Appalachia.

You can watch the stripped cane run through a mule-powered grinder to squeeze out every drop of the juice. It is then filtered and allowed to flow down into a huge open trough. The fire is set in such a way that the juice boils at the upper end of the copper-bottomed pan. The hard work here is the skimming. As the syrup boils a greenish foam collects towards the back of the pan. This must be skimmed until it is all removed, a long patience trying process. The amber syrup is then filleted into a barrel and bottled before your eyes. The huge clouds of steam rising from the kettles would draw you by smell alone even if you weren’t rushing to enjoy the festivities.

One of the favorite contests is the Biscuit Eating Contest. Anyone can enter. You must swipe the biscuit through sorghum then devour it. The winner usually shovels down forty to fifty in fifteen minutes. But if you eat at least five, you will come away with a tee-shirt.

You can also compete in pole climbing, log sawing, rock throwing and horseshoe throwing contests. Arts and crafts overflow from Fort Sorghum into the school auditorium. One of the things the Jaycees insist on id the genuine handmade craft. They want to preserve the authentic feel of the festival. Entertainment is provided by bluegrass bands, cloggers and gospel bands.

The festival parade is held downtown on the first Saturday of the festival. The revelers and floats are decorated in "Old Time’ motif. Bands, horseback riders and costumed marchers add to the flavor. For a festival that offers a trip back in time as well as a treat for your taste buds, The Sorghum Festival is a must.

Type of place: Food Festival
Budget level: Low Budget
Costs: $2 per adult children 12 and under free
Location: Blairsville, GA, USA
Street address: Meeks Park on Hwy 515
Date/Time: Middle two weekends of October
Telephone: 17067454745
Email: blairsvillejaycees@yahoo.com

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