Saturday, April 11, 2009

Polk County Ramp Tramp Festival

Polk County, Tennessee: The Polk County Ramp Tramp Festival is coming up, mid-April (dates below). Like many festivals, the Ramp Tramp celebrates the Appalachian culture and lifestyle. Appalachian people were known for scraping a living out of rock and dirt. They knew what to pick and where to find it ~ what made good food and what made medicine. Poke salet (poison unless cooked right ~ and even then, questionable); ramp, blackberries, huckleberries, sassafras, dandelion, black gum, and scaly-bark hickory nuts; all grew wild in the woods and mountains of Appalachia. Used to, so did the nearly extinct American Chestnut ~ but that's another story...

Ramp, a type of lily bulb, is this festival's feature. Ramp is recognized by its broad, flat leaves. It tastes like onion or garlic. Every year, Polk Countians and friends come together for the Ramp Tramp (The Digging of the Ramp). It's an all-day hike up into the mountains ~ something the Appalachians used to do quite often, and think nothing of it, before the couch-potato culture conquered their will and spirit. A day or so later, Ramp Trampers clean and cook their harvest, to be served up as folk-inspired meals of fried-ramp and eggs, fried potatoes, streaked meat, white beans, and cornbread (though not as good as my Mama's cornbread, I guarantee). Bluegrass and gospel music, auction, crafts and a ramp-eating contest top off the festival.

Dates: Ramp Tramp (The Digging of the Ramps all-day hike): Wed., April 22nd (Rain Date: Thurs., April 23rd); meet 8 a.m. at the Polk County courthouse. Music, meal, and festival events: Sat., April 25th, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Camp McCroy (Polk County 4-H Camp) in the Greasy Creek community of Polk County, located 2 1/2 miles off Hwy. 64 on Hwy. 30, between Ocoee and Ducktown, Tennessee. Bluegrass and gospel by Wolf Creek Bluegrass and Steel String Session. And of course, there'll be ramps and cornbread aplenty to eat. Adults $8. Children under 12 $4.


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