By Laura Hill
Nearly all year, the Lodge Cast Iron foundry is closed to the public. But on two special days – South Pittsburg’s annual Cornbread Festival – you can tour the state-of-the-art facility and have a grand time before and after.
The annual National Cornbread Festival, which is held April 26-27, 2014, is fun, but it’s also a celebration with a mission. Worried about a local economy dampened by big shopping centers and a busy highway that bypassed the town, community leaders came up with the idea of an event to promote South Pittsburg and benefit charitable, civic, church and youth organizations from the proceeds in return for volunteering.
Besides saluting all things cornbread, the festival has helped scouts, athletics programs, building projects, education and the arts. Pittsburg’s now-thriving storefronts are a testament to how the festival has put the community on the map.
Besides Lodge factory tours, the festival offers great music, Miss Cornbread pageants, cook-offs, arts and crafts, a historic tour, a carnival, exhibits and a classic car show. No wonder 45,000 people attend each year.
“It’s hokey fun,” says Mark Kelly of Lodge Cast Iron. “And hokey is a good thing.”