We arrived early int he morning back at the festival. We parked in the designated lot on my fancy parking pass. We left everything in the car and went to explore and figure out where I needed to check in and all the details. We stopped to watch a demo on corn grinding. It was quite a unique machine and it worked really fast! We went by the Lodge store and bought a lot of new skillets and other things for the kitchen. I picked out a wolf skillet and one that was from this years festival. I got checked in and they gave me a huge bag of Lodge swag. I love my apron! It even has my name on it! We had a pancake breakfast and spent some time relaxing until it was time for me to report to the stage for cooking. I set up my station. It was quite chilly in the shade. I turned my oven on to start it to heat up. A few final checks and I was all set to go. We started with a little introduction and got the instructions for the contest. I was nervous but kept calm. Off and baking. The longest 10 minutes of my life as I followed my directions, talked to the judges and made sure that the oven was working correctly. I couldn’t get the burner going and finally they found me someone that could help me. All done and in the oven. The oven was warming up like it should. The other kids items were coming up done and mine was no where near done. I got upset and with a little guidance from Mom was able to pull myself together. It cooked in the time limit but barely. Some of the other ovens were pre-heated due to an earlier cooking demo. Mine was on the end in the wind and cold. It just was super slow to heat for a gas range! Oh well. Coming together a few hours later for the final awards. Since there were multiple heats in the contest we had to wait a little while since I was in the first one. I didn’t win but I had a fun time trying. I learned a lot about gas ranges, speaking to judges and staying on track. The photo of our heat. My final product! Decompressing back at the campground. Blowing dandelions. Identifying different trees. Running as fast as I could to wear myself out.
Well we made it! The National Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg, TN. What a journey this has been. I loved the photos with the giant cow. This whole experience has been larger than life. The wotan goes all out for this huge celebration! South Pittsburg is the home of Lodge Cast Iron so Lodge has great community involvement with the event. They also open their factory doors for the festival for tours. This is the only time to do these tours. We enjoyed some samples from Cornbread Alley. Local non-profits make recipes and people donate money to vote for the best. The charities keep the money from the voting! I wasn’t exactly sure of some of these cornbread flavors! Some had jalapeños, cajun spices, coconut and other weird things. I guess I can’t speak since my recipe had blue cheese in it! We got the cutest little skillets from a prize table from Cracker Barrel. We signed the banner at the kids station. They had all sorts of fun games and crafts. We did sand art. Unfortunately, gravity got the best of them when we were on the tour later in the day and they didn’t make it home. Oh well, we had a lot of fun making them anyway. The Lodge Foundry was impressive. It was HUGE! The machines were gigantic! We walked all around the factory a few times to understand how the entire process worked. They had little learning station set up to explain each step in the process. I thought it was neat that they recycle all of the scrap to use again in a new production run, there was very little waste! I loved all the different patterns for the bottoms of the skillets. I hope to get a few before we leave. After the tour we headed to Russel Cave National Park to learn about native hunting with the atlatl and bow and arrow. We also turned the cave from the boardwalk and saw all the dig sites that were active. We completed our Junior Ranger books and had a very unique swearing in ceremony! We were all laughing so hard!
We took Luna up to Tennessee for the cornbread festival. The campground we stayed at offers cave tours and wild caving. We opted to do the Echo Room wild cave tour. 3.5 hours of crawling around in mud, shimmying through small spaces and having a total blast!
We all had to crawl through an 18″ high hole that was half way filled with water. We all got soaked and more muddy. I was excited but when I felt the cold water on my legs there was NO WAY I was doing this! After much prompting and prodding and negotiations, I removed my helmet and went through on my back. I was cold and miserable but proud of myself for accomplishing a fear. We had a lot of fun and all came out injury free. There were slips and slides, near losses of shoes, a Mom sliding rather aggressively down a slippery slope on her bottom and a few other memorable bumps in the trip. B and I enjoyed some gem panning after we got all cleaned up. Mom spent the afternoon doing laundry! Go figure!
Well, I mentioned before that I was one of 10 finalists in the National Cornbread Festival 4-H Cook-off. I have been working a LOT lately to perfect my techniques and get my time down to 10-15 min to prep. I really want to show off my knife skills and all the fun things that go into my recipe vs just dump random containers in. I have been working hard on chopping rosemary with the giant knife. It first it took me about 4 minutes to chop it, now it takes less than a minute! I love how it looks when it comes out of the pan! Another day, more practice! I have practiced (timed) about 8 times so far. We are all sick of cornbread at this point and have been giving it away to friends when I make it.
I think I am ready. My prep time is down to under 10 minutes. I have it all memorized, but I am bringing a note sheet so I don’t skip anything important. I am excited and super nervous. I am not looking forward to talking to the judges but I have been practicing nonetheless.
Our 4-H Club, Earth Explorers, joined the City of Seminole at the Seminole Recreation Center for an Arbor Day tree planting. The tree that once stood there was destroyed in Hurricane Irma last year. We volunteered to plant a new tree in the location. We all took turns shoveling. It was a fun outing. I wish we were able to plant more trees!