HOULKA – Cornbread Festival organizers hoped for a good turnout at the inaugural event Saturday and were blown away with the number of people who showed up to eat cornbread, buy arts and crafts and enjoy a little music.
The Square in Houlka was packed with vendors and cars were parked four blocks deep for the festival that event organizers hope will become a regular fall and maybe even a spring-time event.
“This is wonderful and we really didn’t know how many people to plan for,” said Tina Pullen, Cornbread Festival coordinator. “The only problem we have had today is the crowds and that is a good problem to have.”
The festival is built around cornbread and there were 39 entries in the Cornbread Judging Contest that saw “voters” buy a ballot for $5 and get to sample as many and as much cornbread as they wanted. Entries were given a number keep the voting anonymous and base each vote on taste.
Winners of the First Annual Houlka Cornbread Festival Cornbread Cooking Contest were:
• FIRST PLACE – No. 11, Dorothy Coggins, of Houlka.
• SECOND PLACE – No. 14, Danny Chapman, of Houlka.
• THIRD PLACE – No. 29, Melinda Simmons, of Houlka.
Coggins earned a ribbon, a 10-pound sack of cornmeal and a cast-iron skillet for her effort.
“I am so pleased with the talent this festival has brought out,” said Linda Kelly, of Houlka. “We’ve got good cooks, lots of good artists and vendors and the music is good, too. We need to do things like this more often.”
Houlka Alderman Dustin Eaton said he had never seen so many people on the Square and hoped event organizers will bring it back every year.
“This was good for Houlka,” said Eaton. “Everyone is having a great time they will tell other people about this and about Houlka.”
The fun began with a 5K walk/run Saturday morning. Event organizers hope to add a bike race on the Tanglefoot Trail next year.
More than a dozen soloists, church groups and local bands stepped up on a trailer parked on the south side of the Square. The music continued all day and wrapped up about 9 p.m.
Pullen said the Cornbread Festival Committee is urging churches, civic clubs and businesses to plan now to set up a booth at the next festival.
“This was great and really showed what we can do when we all work together,” said Pullen. “People have wanted something like this for a long time and I’m glad we could pull it together.”
Pullen thanked the city for their help and all the volunteers who handled different events.
“This was not one person that did this but a community,” said Pullen. “We had people who stepped up and said they would handle the race, the entertainment, the vendors and the cornbread. Each of them did a good job and it showed.
For details about the next Houlka Cornbread Festival, call Pullen at 456-6971 or 568-3494.
All proceeds from Saturday’s festival benefit the Greater Houlka Community Fund.