Peas attend this festival


National Rotary Tiller Championship Race

This woman is competing in the 2010 World Champion Rotary Tiller Race as part of the 2010 Purple Hull Pea Festival in Emerson, Arkansas. The custom tiller is powered by a Honda motorcycle engine. The tiller was built specifically for action in this competition.

In their own web site, the people of Emerson, Arkansas call their festival, “The Purple Hull Pea Festival and World Championship Rotary Tiller Race, “ … quirky … and … fun.” From this observation post, they are truthful on both accounts. The longevity of the award-winning festival, the idea of which was hatched in 1990, seems to underscore the accuracy of their description of the event. The crowds just keep on coming. In your wildest dreams, you do not expect to hear of such an event.

To learn how the festival came to be and to see more festival pictures,  take a short trip to the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com and get in on the start of the story. We’ll wait for you here.

Tiller racer at National Rotary Tiller Race Championship

Festival activities heat up on Saturday at the rotary tiller races. The goats grazing in the background are not disturbed. They have seen it before and it does not disturb a good meal. Yes, there were guys racing tillers too. These pictures just happened to fit the page. See the gallery link below for more tiller race, parade and other event pictures not shown here.

The two day festival is a Friday-Saturday affair. Down south, you go to church on Sunday. In true home-town fashion, the festival, for the most part, fills the Emerson School grounds. It spills over into some adjacent residential neighborhoods, but in Emerson, that’s no big deal and not a problem. The schedule on Friday includes a Pea Lunch, cake auction, gospel entertainment, the start of the festival basketball tournament and a bunch more. The action really really heats up on Saturday morning with the tiller races.

Miss Purple Hull 2010

Catie Cunningham, Miss Purple Hull 2010 wears the title with a big smile.

Close on the heels of the tiller races, is a parade featuring a great collection of restored farm tractors, Miss Purple Hull, and a lot more. The parade, unlike those of larger venues does not drag on for hours. (Speaking of tractors, be sure and click on the gallery link at the bottom of this page to see more of the great collection of tractors at this festival). The parade is short, full of good stuff and has a down-home personal feeling to it not found in bigger parades. After the parade, there is a go-slow tractor race. The idea is to cover the ground in the longest time, idling in low gear without killing the engine. The comments from the master of ceremonies are reason enough to attend the event. What a hoot!

Emerson Fire Truck

No parade is complete without a shiny fire truck and Emerson is no different.

A fully restored 956 Chevy Bel Air four door. How sweet it is.

A fully restored 1956 Chevy Bel Air four door. How sweet it is.

1951 Army Jeep

1951 Army Jeep, from pre-humvee days. Vehicles like this were used in the Korean War.

Color coordinated tractor and driver attire in the parade.

Color coordinated tractor and driver attire in the parade.

There was a lot of stuff for sale at the festival. Two vendors caught my eye, both of which were selling purple hull peas. The first, John KIrkpatrick of Willisville, Arkansas is a circuit riding fresh vegetable dealer. His veggies are frozen, but not the crass commercial kind. His merchandise is not long out of  the field when the frigid air hits it. It comes, for the most part in two-bushel bags.

John Kirkpatrick on his trailer.

John Kirkpatrick in his trailer on the festival grounds.

He pulls a long trailer which holds four large freezers chock full of peas, okra, corn, and scads of other desirable veggies. He follows a route to a number of towns in south Arkansas and East Texas, where he has a following. He carries a portable generator with him and runs it when his cargo begins to defrost.

John Kirckpatrick and customer

John Kirkpatrick completes a sale to a happy customer. The bag on top of the freezer is a two-bushel bag. The bag is sold by weight. The volume of un-shelled peas is to come up with this weight is in the neighborhood of two bushel baskets, thus the terminology.

On the other side of the festival grounds, Danny Gryder a truck-farmer from Plain Dealing, Louisiana is peddling freshly hulled peas. He brought more than forty large bags (toe-sacks in proper southern parlance) of fresh un-shelled  peas straight from the fields − and his pea sheller. He set up his machine and started shelling peas on the spot.

Danny Gryder and his pea sheller.

Danny Gryder and his pea sheller. The top swings open and Danny fills the sheller full of peas. The sheller spits out hulls on the side and peas out the small spout near Danny's feet.

The curiosity of the pea huller and the appeal of freshly shelled peas was a siren song to festival attendees. Danny sold out of peas by 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. “I’ll bring a bunch more next time,” he said.

Danny Gryder hand over the last of his peas for the day to a happy customer.

Danny Gryder hands over the last of his peas for the day to a happy customer.

Danny had a few peas left which he handed over to me and I subsequently handed over to my 94-year-old mother after a short drive. Mom was grateful, the quantity was just right for her. “Just barely enough to make a mess,” Danny said as he handed them over. To non-southerners, a “mess” is roughly enough of any vegetable to make enough servings for a meal, such as, ” … hon, Danny gimme a mess of peas.” “Well wundunat sweet of  ‘im Cletus. Didja thank ‘im?” “Yessum.”

Vendors at Purple Hull Pea festival

Vendors at Purple Hull Pea festival from Danny's pea sheller.

All I can say to the folks at Emerson is, ” … y’all done good,” one of the highest compliments proffered from one southerner to another. And if it wasn’t so, I wouldna sed it.

See much more festival in our high-resolution gallery

Each week, we shoot more pictures than we have room to publish. So we post all the pictures, used and those not seen anywhere else in our high resolution gallery. The pictures are bigger and better. My friend Cletus says, ” … Joe, thim pitchers in that gallery are more clearer.” We’re talking more tractors, more parade, more tiller racing.  Click here to see these pictures.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/index.html

They had to put it somewhere


Lousiana purchase survey marker

The monument you see marks the exact spot of the original survey point of the Louisiana Purchase. It sits in the Arkansas Louisiana Purchase State Park off Arkansas Highway 49 in a swamp in the big middle of nowhere. The survey point was established in 1815.

Using only a compass and old-fashioned surveyors  “chains”, in 1815, surveyors Prospect K. Robbins and Joseph C. Brown established the starting point for surveying the Purchase. In 2002, anticipating the 200th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase, government officials decided to resurvey the original point with GPS, lasers and all of the latest technology. They discovered that the original survey of 1815 was one inch off the mark. Pretty remarkable and there’s more. Find out how this story started and see more pictures on the Photo of Week Page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to go there.

Louisiana Purchase State Park entrance

 

When Robbins and Brown were wandering around in this primal boondocks area, getting to the survey point required a lot of swamp wading. You can see the same sights today and never wet your feet in swamp juice. Arkansas’ Louisiana Purchase State Park features a nicely constructed and well maintained boardwalk from the parking lot right up to the original 1810 survey point.

Louisiana Purchase State Park board walk

As you walk toward the monument, you will see informative plaques explaining the park and how the Louisiana Purchase survey was undertaken in 1810. If you’ve ever looked at a swamp and wondered how it looked inside, your curiosity will be satisfied here. The easy way.

The Louisiana  Purchase State Park sits squarely in a large agricultural area. When the original survey was made, the area was covered with forests. In the 1800s the forests were logged and not replanted. Enterprising farmers began using the bare land to cultivate crops. Thus was born one of the major agricultural regions on the planet.

Trees inside the Louisiana Purchase State Park

A stroll down the Louisiana State Park boardwalk is a trip through a primal botanical garden. Bald cypress, water tupelo, swamp chestnut oak, and swamp cottonwood trees abound. If you get lucky, you might see a ‘gator. Other critters in the park include ‘possums, ‘coons and yes, snakes. Remember, if you don’t bother them they will not bother you.

One word of caution, should you decide to visit the park during spring, summer and early fall months, apply insect repellent (popularly known in these parts as “skeeter dope”), liberally to your person. Skeeters are part endemic to a swamp environment and they look on you as a good food source. The other critters in the swamp will probably see you before you see them, which means you probably will not see them.

Old farm house

Just a few miles northwest of the park on Arkansas Highway 39, I ran across this old home. It was no doubt served as housing for a farm worker’s family. Looking at the size of the house, probably a person who was a bit higher in the pecking order. The “screen porch” is a nice touch.

Adding insult to injury, the “home-place tree” for this place was apparently felled by a storm a good while back. The shady side of the house was a good place to be in hot summer weather. Less than a quarter mile from the old house was an abandoned service station. It’s the same story here as in other rural agricultural communities. The realities of the farm business ushered in equipment which took the place of manual labor. As the people left, the supporting businesses withered on the vine.

Old service station

The old station pumps no more. Progress for some is a step backwards for others. “Welcome to the world of American business, have a nice day.” And life goes on.

It was time to head south to home. I selected Arkansas Highway 17 to connect to good ol’ US 79 to make the trip. Where the two came together, late afternoon sun put some fine light on some old truck carcasses. Time to shoot.

old truck bodies

While these old truck components appear to be jettisoned to ignominy, I can guarantee you that they are merchandise for sale. Strategically dropped at the road junction, they are there for all to see. If your truck needs a hood or cab, you’ve found the place.

With a card full of images and a smile on my bewhiskered face, I headed south, happy as a fat pig in the sun. I hope you enjoy the images and comments.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Click here for our weekly high resolution gallery. See all the pictures we shot for the Corndancer and Weekly Grist stories in glorious high resolution, in black and white and color. Bigger and better. You’ll se some pictures we didn’t publish and can’t be seen anywhere else.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

You belong in a zoo II


bears having a spat in a pond

This pair of grizzlies in the new Memphis Zoo Teton Track exhibit were feeling frisky. The huge enclosure area looks like more area than a football field to me. It has rocks, streams, a pond, and miscellaneous other appurtenances to make grizzlies feel right at home. This bear family, there are three, like a lot of other families, was showing a difference of opinion on some thorny matter.

A great day for bears

Memphis Zoo panda

See panda pictures >>>

Per chance it was something in the water or air, but It was a great day for bears at the Memphis Zoo. Much to the delight of a respectable size crowd, a rare panda, three grizzlies, and a polar bear were all strutting their stuff on a steamy mid-south afternoon. A short rainfall also invigorated some otherwise sleepy critters.

You can see a couple of panda pictures, a shaking polar bear, and a big tiger “making a face,” all on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com, where this story started. Click here to go there, a very cool thing to do. We’ll wait while you look. The click is worth the trip.

Support your local meerkat

Much less ferocious and high on the “… awwwwww … ” scale, the Memphis Meerkat family was on its best behavior, calmly standing for endless portraits. Social in nature, if you see one, others are certain to be nearby.

Meerkats at Memphis Zoo

These small critters were welcomed to the Memphis Zoo with giant city-wide fanfare in the early nineties. The meerkat display continues to be one of the most popular exhibits in the zoo.

Unlike his cousin at the Little Rock Zoo who has shown a profound personal dislike for me, this lowland gorilla was gracious enough to strike a good pose. His generosity was short lived. A few seconds after this shot, he turned his back to me. Must be a karma thing.

lowland gorilla at memphis zoo

This big boy is king of all he sees. It’s a good thing to be the 800 pound gorilla.

After the short rain which interrupted this trip to the zoo, several of the critters showed renewed vigor and movement. Though this tiger remained where he (or she) was, he (or she) showed a great deal of interest watching the other tiger in the enclosure cavort and show off. You can see the tiger making a face on the Corndancer Photo of the Weekpage or in our consolidated weekly gallery.

Memphis zoo tiger

This huge kitty looks a bit disgusted observing the other tiger in the enclosure emit a substantial roar and then “make a face” at surprised onlookers.

The Memphis Zoo has a pair of good looking Cheetahs. They were at rest for the most part during my visit. As I arrived at the Cheetah enclosure, the Cheetah below was pacing and showing off her body made for speed. It was just after the rain and by the time I had removed the Nikon from the bag, the cat had showed her catness, and taken her place of rest. As a long-time cat owner, I am painfully experienced at seeing photo ops instantly vanish once the camera is in hand.

reclining cheetah

The speed demon rests. Seconds before I brought the camera to bear, she was strolling the Cheetah stroll. Typical cat. Wait until the camera is in hand and stop doing what you are doing!

Despite a persnickety cat, a great visit to the zoo. This zoo points out that recent surveys place it as the nation’s number one zoo in popularity. They’ve got me convinced. Tired and sweaty, I still did not want to leave. Finally temporal needs overwhelmed unsatisfied curiosity and quite simply, “I split for the crib.”

BUT WAIT, THERE IS MUCH MORE!

Mother duck and ducklings

Click on the ducks for more critters

Every week we shoot more than there is room to display on this blog and the Corndancer Photo of the Week page. This week there is a bumper crop of additional 17 panda pictures, 11 more grizzly pictures, a couple of ape, polar bears, and ducks. Click here to see those cool shots. You’ll see larger, higher quality pictures of everything. Some not published any where else.

Thanks for dropping by,
Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/

http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/

http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/grist-june5-10/index.html


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