Craig Wayne Boyd, Season 7 winner of "The Voice," will headline the seventh annual International Cowpea Festival and Cook-off, presented by Bush Brothers & Company and set for Saturday, Sept. 8, …
Craig Wayne Boyd, Season 7 winner of "The Voice," will headline the seventh annual International Cowpea Festival and Cook-off, presented by Bush Brothers & Company and set for Saturday, Sept. 8, in the Charleston Park.
Born and raised in Dallas, Boyd grew up with gospel and country music influences. He began playing mandolin when he was only 4 and through the years added guitar, bass, keyboard, saxophone, trumpet and trombone. He moved to Nashville in 2004 to pursue his dream of a country music career.
The singer/songwriter signed a publishing deal with EMI and began touring, opening for acts such as Brantley Gilbert, Randy Houser and Jamey Johnson. Boyd got his big break when he shot to stardom in 2014 on NBC’s hit reality show The Voice.
Boyd landed on Blake Shelton’s Team during the “blind auditions” after singing “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’” by Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart. He got stolen by "Coach" Gwen Stefani and then stolen back by Shelton. Throughout the competition, three of the songs Boyd sang on the show went to the Top 10 on iTunes including his rendition of Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line,” the soul-stirring gospel standard “Old Rugged Cross,” and an original song “My Baby’s Got a Smile on Her Face.”
After his big win, CWB, as he’s sometimes called, played the Grand Ole Opry and embarked on a 65-city tour. His latest release, “Top Shelf,” on the Copperline label produced the two singles “Stuck in my Head” and “Better Together.”
“We are excited to offer the talents of Craig Wayne Boyd, one of the superstars from NBC’s 'The Voice,'” said Melissa Woody, festival co-chair and vice president for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce Tourism Development. “His fresh take on old-school country gives him a unique style. He is an accomplished musician and songwriter and we are always ‘HAPPEA’ to present quality artists for our Cowpea crowd!”
CWB will take the stage at 6 p.m. for this free concert. The headliner show is sponsored by the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce and the Tennessee Arts Commission. Organizers say festivalgoers should bring chairs and plan to stay all day to enjoy activities for every age, great festival food from more than a dozen food vendors and the Whirlpool Cowpea Cook-off.
The festival kicks off at 10 a.m. with activities throughout the day. Leading up to Boyd’s performance, live music begins at 11 a.m. with a full line-up slated for the day.
“We have so much talent in our region,” Woody said. “We will be announcing the entire schedule for the day soon and you can count on a great variety of country and bluegrass styles that everyone will enjoy!”
The Whirlpool Cowpea Cook-off features professional chefs preparing recipes using a variety of cowpeas from Bush Brothers. Whirlpool brings five gas ranges for on-site cooking demonstrations in the park. Festivalgoers who purchase a $5 souvenir spatula can taste the culinary creations and vote for their favorite. Tasting will take place 2 to 5 p.m. Spatulas are sold before the event at the Chamber of Commerce or at the event on festival day.
This “harvest festival with the funny name” is rooted in the area’s authentic agricultural heritage. 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 the crowder pea, black-eyed pea, cream pea, silver-hull and other field pea varieties known as vigna unguiculata.
“This unique festival is a great way to recognize our agri-heritage as well as a protein-rich food that is a big part of our Southern diet,” said Darlene Goins, festival co-chair and facility manager for the Hiwassee River Heritage Center. “When the train started coming through in the 1850s, people called it the ‘pea train’ because so many peas shipped on the train. Charleston is full of amazing history, and the fact that the small community was a major grower and exporter of cowpeas is just another interesting chapter in Charleston’s story.”
In addition to music throughout the day and the Cowpea Cook-off, the festival will feature storytelling and a family fun field with games, air toys and a petting zoo. A character greeting will feature the “Princess and the Cowpea” for photo opportunities.
The marketplace will offer handmade arts and crafts, fresh produce and booths featuring festival sponsors and heritage information telling Charleston’s significant history. Food vendors will have popular festival food favorites available for purchase.
The festival website www.CowpeaFestival.com includes information on activities and is being updated with details and supporting sponsors on a daily basis.
Proceeds from the festival fund the operations of the Hiwassee River Heritage Center, which opened in May 2013, and is located on Highway 11 in Charleston. The heritage center is currently closed for expansion and is set to reopen in December.
Anyone interested in supporting this community effort should contact Melissa Woody at 423-472-6587 or Darlene Goins at 423-665-3373.
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