RICHLAND COUNTY, SC — There will be no sugar in the main dish at this weekend’s South Carolina Cornbread Festival.
But organizers will be seeking a sweet combination of community fellowship and healthy lifestyles when the premier event kicks off Saturday in Columbia.
The North Columbia Business Association is hosting the event that will run from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. at Main and Newman streets, near Earlewood Park.
The festival is intended to raise diabetes awareness while celebrating a Southern tradition with a healthy twist.
“We’ve been working with diabetes (awareness, research and treatment) for a few years,” said Tommy Burkett, chairman of The North Columbia Business Association, adding the festival is the latest of efforts that have included fund-raising walks and golf tournaments.
Burkett said the festival name and cause were not directly related.
“We were just in a meeting one day, and somebody said ‘cornbread,’ and all of us looked at each other kind of funny and said ‘cornbread,’” he said.
After researching the name, the association discovered there was just one cornbread festival in the country – in Tennessee – and learned it has been successful.
So local organizers drafted the name and have added their own twists.
Burkett said the North Columbia Business Association’s emphasis on diabetes is supported by statistics from Palmetto Health showing that the community has a higher occurrence of diabetes than in many surrounding areas.
“We’re here for the community,” he said. “That’s what we’re striving to do is help the people in this area and all over the city.”
In keeping with that thinking, all cornbread at this weekend’s festival will be sugar free, including entries in the cornbread baking contest.
Burkett hopes that lone restriction will encourage more healthy cooking practices (although there’s no word yet on any limits on butter).
Along with a Diabetes Awareness Walk and cornbread cookoff, Saturday’s festival will include a Little Miss Muffin pageant, live music and family friendly entertainment. A Corn Muffin Play Land will be open to children younger than 12, and the mascots from the University of South Carolina, Benedict College and Clemson University will be on hand.
Burkett said he hopes the festival will become a legacy.
“We’re really thinking positive and we’re hoping it’s going to go over well,” he said. “As soon as it’s over this year, we’re going to start planning for next year.”
Admission to Saturday’s festival is free.
South Carolina Cornbread Festival
Date and time: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday
Location: Main and Newman streets in Columbia, near Earlewood Park
South Carolina Cornbread Festival Schedule
8-10 a.m.: Live Sugar-Free Run/Walk, begins at 2805 Main St. (Bank of America)
8:30-8:45 a.m.: Registration at cookoff tent for professional cookoff (2800 N. Main)
9 a.m.-noon: Contest cookoff (Hyatt Park Elementary School)
10:30 a.m.-6 p.m.: Cornbread Muffin Play Land open
10-11 a.m.: Southern Grooveline (Line Dancing)
11 a.m.-noon: Let’s Dance Salsa & Emerald Ballroom Fusion Group
11 a.m.-noon: Amateur cornbread cookoff and judging
Noon-10 p.m.: Cornbread Lane (tasting area) is open
Noon-5 p.m.: Classic car and bike show
12:30-1 p.m.: City of Columbia vs. Richland County in cornbread tossing competition
1:30-2 p.m.: Rich Owensby
2 p.m.: Announcement of contest winners
2-3 p.m.: Melba Wilson book-signing
2 p.m.: First cornbread-eating contest
2:30-3 p.m.: Southern Grooveline (Line Dancing)
3-4 p.m.: The Mobros
4-4:15 p.m.: Mahoganie Brown
4 p.m.: Second cornbread-eating contest
4:15- 5:15 p.m.: Men of Distinction
5:15-5:30 p.m.: Raffle Call
5:30-6:30 p.m.: The Fantastic Shakers
6:30-6:45 p.m.: J. Anthony Brown
6:45-7:45 p.m.: Finesse Band
7:45-8 p.m: Key to the City Presentation to Chairman of the Board
8-9:30 p.m.: Chairman of the Board
Reach Rantin at (803) 771-8306.