There have been food festivals since the dawn of time. The first harvest moon to rise on the first humans to plant crops probably shone on a scene of revelry. I've witnessed harvests in West Africa and they combine pomp and ritual with giddy celebration. Now you can find similar events in small rural communtities throughout the USA. Though the ancient festivals celebrated survival, the reaping of food which will give life to the community, like our November Thanksgiving, most current ones celebrate a favorite, chowhound-worthy food. My friend from Iowa told me of corn festivals in the town square, where people would chow down on fresh corn and fried chicken till they just about bust, and then they'd head for the free beer. In Porter, Oklahoma, it's peaches. And in West Virginia, it's ramps... and unlike the other harvest festivals, this one is going on now.There are lots and lots of them. Every town and holler has one, it seems. The best known are at Richwood, Elkins, Pickens and Helvetia. This year, Richwood is April 22, Helvetia is April 29.and Pickens is April 15. If I had a car and lived within 500 miles, that's where I'd be.
(Photo is of a ramp festival in North Carolina in 2003)