Cowpea artist lineup funded by Tennessee Arts
by Special to the Banner
Sep 01, 2013 | 1383 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cowpea Festival
Catfish Chet and Ken
view slideshow (3 images)
The Tennessee Arts Commission recently announced a grant award to support the artist lineup for the International Cowpea Festival and Cook-off presented by Bush Brothers and Company.

The lineup for the “harvest festival with the funny name” set for Sept. 14 in the Charleston Park features all Tennessee artists headlined by Grammy award-winner Billy Dean.

Dean, who is appearing at this free concert courtesy of the Tennessee Arts Commission and the Cleveland /Bradley Chamber of Commerce Convention & Visitors Bureau, takes the stage at 6:30 p.m.

“Bring chairs and blankets and secure your spot early,” said Melissa Woody, vice president for Convention & Visitors Bureau and festival co-chair. “Billy is sure to draw a great crowd from all over the region.”

Some of his biggest hits include “Only Here for A Little While,” “Billy the Kid,” “If There Hadn't Been You,” “Let Them Be Little” and his signature hit and Academy of Country Music’s 1992 Song of the Year, “Somewhere in My Broken Heart.”

After gaining national attention with a win on the television talent competition “Star Search” in 1988, Dean has sold more than 4 million albums and scored 11 Top 10 singles on the country charts.

After more than a dozen albums released, four of which are certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, his musical style transcends the country music genre with a blend of folk, rock, Americana and country.

Opening for Billy Dean, The Collins Brothers Band will rock the park with its self-described “bang and twang” style of country excitement. Sponsored by Companion Funeral & Cremation Service, hometown brothers Joe-Joe and Cory Collins started the band 13 years ago.

While gathering a fan base as one of the region’s premiere “cover” bands, The Collins Brothers Band began writing and performing their own songs. The boys went from playing local events to being on tour with big name country acts like Ronny Milsap and Montgomery-Gentry. They released a self-titled album in 2007 and this year have released a new CD.

“Joe-Joe, Cory and the guys will more than warm up the stage for Billy Dean,” Woody said. “They will scorch it.”

A new addition, “The Funny Dummy Show,” is a unique comedy revue featuring ventriloquist Ken Karter, his wife, Renee, and large colorful characters that sing, dance and tell funny stories. Karter and his crew come with reviews from other festivals that call his show “amazing” and “fun for all audiences.”

Other Tennessee talent taking the festival stage includes Cool Mule, a bluegrass combination of local legends. Headed by master fiddle player Hayes Dickson, Cool Mule also includes Mitch Dickson, Richard Taylor and Donald Goode.

Kennedy, Sydney and Friends features songwriting sisters performing a diverse selection of original and familiar songs with pop/folk style, while local duo Bad Tattoo will countrify your favorite pop songs.

Be inspired as the festival music kicks off with two of Charleston’s beloved gospel ensembles, Men of Praise, six voices from Green’s Chapel CPCA, and The Lattimores, a family-based group featuring two sisters and their daughters.

Charleston was once known as the “Cowpea Capital of the United States” because of the large amount of peas grown in the area and shipped to markets far and away.

“Cowpea” is the general name for more than 50 varieties of peas including the crowder, black-eyed, purple-hull, silver-hull, field, Southern and other pea varieties scientifically known as vigna unguiculata.

“This unique festival is a great way to recognize an authentic agri-heritage as well as a truly Southern food that is a big part of our Southern diet,” said Darlene Goins, treasurer for the Charleston-Calhoun-Hiwassee Historical Society and festival co-chair.

“Charleston is just full of surprises, and the fact the small community was a major exporter of this staple on our tables is another interesting chapter in Charleston’s story.”

The festival will also feature the “Princess and the Cowpea” pageant sponsored by Meagher & Meagher Furniture and storytelling for all ages offered by the Cleveland Storytelling Guild and sponsored by Resolute Forest Products.

Heritage Way, booths displaying local heritage information, is sponsored by Haney Meat Company. The Olin Family Fun Field will feature games, the Piggly Wiggly petting zoo, “Little Pea-caso” art projects and air toys.

A marketplace, sponsored by Crown of Cleveland, will offer arts and crafts, fresh produce and other goods. Food vendors will have concessions available.

The community is invited to participate in the cook-off portion of the event sponsored by Whirlpool Corp. A professional and amateur chef division will be available for entries using varieties of cowpeas. Cowpea creations in the amateur chef division will be judged by a panel while the professional chef division will be judged by the first 600 people who purchase a souvenir spoon for $5. Whirlpool is bringing five gas ranges for on-site cooking in the park.

The festival website includes detailed information about all the activities, as well as deadlines, registration information and guidelines for the competitions.

Photos from the agri-photo competition, sponsored by Homestead Lawn & Tractor Co. and CPQ Professional Imaging Inc., will be on display at the festival.

In addition to the sponsors already mentioned, festival organizers have recently welcomed Wampler’s Farm Sausage, Haney Meat Company, Ace Hardware, Blossman Gas, Hampton Inn & Suites, Farm Credit and Farm Bureau.

Proceeds of the festival support the operations of the newly-opened Hiwassee River Heritage Center in Charleston.

Anyone interested in supporting this community effort should contact Melissa Woody at 423-472-6587 or Darlene Goins at 423-413-8284.