The sweet aroma of sorghum will soon fill the air at the 18th annual Sorghum Festival.
A tradition the third Saturday in October since 1998, the festival, organizers said, promises to be a wonderful opportunity to experience a part of the past. The festival, as always, is being held at the Old McDaniel School building from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17 and is free and open to the public.
According to festival coordinator John Matthews, he and his wife Annie, who helps organize the event, continue the tradition of sorghum cooking, because it’s almost a lost art.
“Not many people do this anymore,” Matthews acknowledged. “Cooking syrup has almost become a lost art.”
About 7 a.m. the Saturday of the festival, Matthews said he will begin cooking the sorghum.
“There will be a rolling brown color,” Matthews said as he described the process of cooking the grass. “The juice will be bubbling and cooking for the first few hours.” This, Matthews exclaimed, is a process the public likes to see.
The entire process, Matthews said, will last until about 12:30 p.m. and that’s when the lines will form. As fast as the sweet syrup finishes, Matthews said people line up to get a taste. Once they taste the syrup, Matthews said it’s a taste quickly desired, which is good since the syrup will be for sale.
As part of the festival, Matthews said there will be craft and food vendors, as in years past. Some of the food available will be barbecue sandwiches, hot dogs, funnel cake, authentic Mexican food and shaved ice.
A new addition to this year, Matthews said, is the quilt show that will be held in the old school building.
“My wife plans to have a lot of quilts on display,” Matthews said.
The weather was perfect for last year’s event, which could have possibly brought in more than 1,500 people. In years past, the festival has been known to bring in crowds of more than 1,000.
“Because we don’t charge an admission, it’s hard to keep up with how many people come and go,” Matthews said.
Music and entertainment will be provided by Charles Carlyle and his band, as well as Kenneth Lyle and family.
For the train lovers, an electric train will be on display. This, Matthews said, isn’t your normal train model. The train display will measure 18 feet by 24 feet and feature a miniature town.
At the festival there is an old country store open to the public, as well as the Old McDaniel School, which, he said, is like a museum.
“Our old country store is like going back to 1900 and seeing something you haven’t seen,” Matthews said.
Sorghum syrup is a table syrup and often used in cooking at high-end restaurants in their sauces, cakes, cookies and meat bastes. Many people, Matthews said, use the sorghum syrup in their barbeque sauce.
For more information about the Sorghum Festival or for directions, visit www.oldschoolsorghum.com.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.