Meagher & Meagher Furniture has teamed up with Jamison Bedding to sponsor the “Princess and the Cowpea” Natural Beauty Pageant and the deadline to enter the pageant has been extended as a welcome to the new sponsor.
The pageant is being held in conjunction with the International Cowpea Festival and Cook-off presented by Bush Brothers & Company and set for Saturday, Sept. 15, in the Charleston Park, one block off Highway 11.
“When thinking of the classic story of the ‘Princess and the Pea,’ this event is a great fit for a mattress retailer,” said Jim Meagher, co-owner of Meagher & Meagher Furniture in downtown Cleveland. “You don’t have to be a real princess to sleep well on Jamison Bedding, but we certainly hope that you feel like one after resting on our mattresses.”
Meagher & Meagher is located at the corner of Inman and Church streets in Historic Downtown Cleveland. The Meagher brothers, Jim and Don, are Cleveland natives and have been in business 15 years and at the current location since 2004. M&M Furniture, as the business is sometimes called, is the only retailer of Jamison Bedding in Cleveland.
“We are so thankful for all of our sponsors,” said Melissa Woody, festival co-chair, who serves as vice president of the Convention & Visitors Bureau for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce. “We want this first Cowpea Festival and Cook-off to be so great that folks will want to put the next one on their calendars before they leave this year’s event! You can’t do that without great sponsors.”
The deadline to enter the “Princess and the Cowpea” Natural Beauty Pageant has been extended into the next week to allow additional entries. The new and final deadline is Friday, Aug. 31, at 4 p.m.
Registration and fees may be mailed to Charleston-Calhoun-Hiwassee Historical Society or dropped off Monday through Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., at the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce at the south end of the Village Green Town Center. Complete guidelines and entry forms are available on the festival website at www.cowpeafestival.com. The entry fee for the pageant is $25 per contestant and an additional $10 to enter the photogenic portion of the competition.
“We have had a positive response to the pageant, but many communities seem to wait until the last minute to participate in new programs or events, and ours tends to be one of those,” Wood said.
Contestants can enter in six categories as well as an overall Miss Cowpea Princess from the category winners. The six categories are based on contestants’ ages and include:
n Baby Miss Cowpea Princess, 0-12 months;
n Tiny Miss Cowpea Princess, 13-35 months;
n Wee Miss Cowpea Princess, 3-4 years;
n Petite Miss Cowpea Princess, 5-6 years;
n Young Miss Cowpea Princess, 7-9 years; and
n Little Miss Cowpea Princess, 10-12 years.
An overall Miss Cowpea Princess will be selected from the princesses in each category. This award will be given to the contestant that the judges feel shows the best overall presentation. Personality and stage presence will play a major role in selection. Additionally, each contestant has the opportunity to submit photographs for the photogenic classification.
Every homegrown festival needs a Southern beauty to represent the event in the community, Woody said. She pointed out the International Cowpea Festival and Cook-off presented by Bush Brothers & Company is no exception. The pageant will be a main stage activity at the mid-September festival and will begin at 11 a.m.
Meagher referred to the classic fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea,” penned by Hans Christian Anderson, where the prince searched for a true princess to be his wife. The queen confirmed the royal status of the prospective bride by placing a tiny pea under a stack of mattresses to see if the princess could sleep well with the hidden lump. A real princess is so delicate, she would be able to sense any part of the bed less than perfect, even the size of a pea, the prince surmised.
The Cleveland Storytelling Guild will present the Appalachian version that the creative group has adapted from Anderson’s classic tale. It is called “Princess and the Cowpea.”
“Our Southern beauties won’t have to pass a sleep test to be crowned a princess. Their challenge will be sharing natural beauty and sweet smiles to a panel of experienced judges,” said Christy Goins, pageant coordinator for the International Cowpea Festival and Cook-off Committee. “We are excited about the pageant component of the festival and think it will add so much to a full day of fun activities.”
The distinction of a “natural beauty” pageant comes with certain expectations from the judges of the event. Judging will be based on natural appearance. Makeup should be minimal and look natural. Wigs, hairpieces and extensions are not permitted.
“We want to promote selection of a hometown face to represent this great festival,” Goins said. “We want our Miss Cowpea Princess to be a natural beauty who can represent the spirit of this event, a celebration of agriculture, heritage and hometown.”
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.
Woody described the coming one-of-a-kind festival as a “... great way to recognize an authentic agri-heritage and celebrate a protein-rich favorite on Southern plates.”
Throughout the day, beginning at 10 a.m., the festival will feature musical artists, square dancing, clogging and storytelling. A marketplace will offer booths featuring arts and crafts, fresh produce and other goods. Food vendors will have concessions available. Booths displaying agricultural information as well as heritage information telling Charleston’s nationally significant history will be part of the festival. A Family Fun area and will feature games, art projects, face painting and air toys. The festival website www.cowpeafestival.com includes information on activities and is being updated with more scheduled items on a daily basis.
Grammy Award-winning artist Suzy Bogguss will headline the festival which will be held in the Charleston Park. Bogguss will take the stage at 7 p.m. Bogguss appears courtesy of the Chamber of Commerce’s Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The community is invited to participate in the cook-off portion of the event sponsored by Whirlpool Corporation. A professional and amateur chef division is available for entries using any variety of cowpea. Cowpea creations in the amateur chef division will be judged by a panel while the professional chef division will be judged by the first 500 people who purchase a souvenir spoon for $5.
Spoon-holders are entitled to tasting samples from the five professional chefs; they also will get door prize tickets. Whirlpool is bringing five gas ranges for on-site cooking demonstrations in the park. Details on entering the three categories of the amateur cook-off are available at www.cowpeafestival.com.
Other sponsors to date include Homestead Lawn & Tractor, CPQ Professional Imaging, Olin Corporation, Haney Meat Company and Farm Credit. Cowpea Pals include Ace Hardware of Cleveland, Farm Bureau, Farm Bureau Insurance, Ag Credit and Blossman.
Anyone interested in supporting this community effort should contact Woody at 423-472-6587 or Goins at 423-413-8284.