Special to the Banner
Posted 9/7/18

With growing attendance, organizers of the International Cowpea Festival and Cook-off say that parking is top of mind. Thanks to Resolute Forest Products (formerly known as Bowater), a shuttle …

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With growing attendance, organizers of the International Cowpea Festival and Cook-off say that parking is top of mind.

Thanks to Resolute Forest Products (formerly known as Bowater), a shuttle parking lot will be available across the bridge in Calhoun. Parking is still $5 a carload and the free shuttles will run continuously to the festival and back, thanks to church buses from Calhoun Baptist Church and Council Baptist Church. Once parking near the park fills, follow signs and directions from attendants to the shuttle lot just across the bridge. 

This “harvest festival with the funny name” kicks off at 10 a.m. and features live country and bluegrass music, 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. Visit the festival website for more details. 

The Whirlpool Cowpea Cook-off features professional chefs preparing recipes using a variety of cowpeas from Bush Brothers. 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. 

“We could not offer this event without the generous and faithful support of our wonderful sponsors,” said Melissa Woody, Festival co-chair.  “We are so grateful for how these businesses have embraced our event, the Hiwassee River Heritage Center, the community of Charleston and cowpeas!”

Sponsors of the Cowpea Festival include the presenting sponsor Bush Brothers & Company, cook-off sponsor Whirlpool Corporation and talent sponsors Tennessee Arts Commission and Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce. 

"V.I.Pea" sponsors include Don Ledford Automotive, Companion Funeral & Cremation Services, Homestead Lawn & Tractor, Olin Corporation, Resolute Forest Products, Haney Meat Company, CPQ Pics, John Thompson Produce, Bradley County Farm Bureau, Wampler’s Farm Sausage, Cleveland State Community College and Mac/PC Market, who will be providing a free charging station for digital devices. 

Cowpea Pals include Blossman Gas, Calhoun Baptist Church, Cleveland Insurance, Council Baptist Church, Farm Bureau Insurance, Farm Credit and Lonza. Media sponsors are the Cleveland Daily Banner and Mix 104.1 WCLE. 

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. 


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