By Tiffeny Owens
The Cullman Times
Thousands turned out for Cullman’s inaugural Farm Y’all festival Saturday to celebrate the county’s agricultural heritage with local grown produce, gourmet cooking demonstrations, giant pumpkins and games.
Downtown was taken over by families and farmers out enjoying the warm weather and bluegrass music as vendors sold everything from refreshing cold lemonade to mouthwatering barbecue sandwiches. Trent Boyd of Cullman took home the prize for largest pumpkin —tipping the scales at 903 pounds — while Frank Mudd of Flaherty, Ky. claimed the biggest watermelon at 276 pounds.
“It took a lot of fertilizer and water and good luck, good weather and good seeds,” Boyd said his behemoth pumpkin that kids took turns crawling on for pictures.
The event drew people from as far away as California to explore Cullman’s vast agriculture and learn how to turn locally produced fruit, vegetables and meats into world-class meals.
“We’ve really enjoyed ourselves. It’s been a lot of fun,” said Irma Hatcher who drove up from south Georgia with her husband, Louis, to visit their Cullman relatives, Fred and Sherry Brown.
“My favorite has been the ice cream,” Sherry Brown said.
Dozens packed the tent to watch renowned Birmingham chefs Dyron Powell from Dyron’s Lowcountry, Frank Stitt from Highlands Bar and Grill, Chris Hastings from the Hot and Hot Fish Club and Clif Holt with Little Savannah prepare items straight off their respective restaurant menus.
“I started in 1995, and I fell in love with using food that’s in season,” said Hastings. “It’s all about celebrating those moments. Our menus are written daily with whatever fresh items we have. It’s all about honoring the farmers and fisherman that produce this food.”
At the Cullman County Museum, festival goers watched a screening of the documentary film, “Eating Alabama”, directed by Alabama native and independent filmmaker, Andrew Beck Grace and received tips on how to make your own baby food and other food preparation and preservation techniques. Meanwhile across the street at Festhalle, local growers proudly displayed their fresh foods, canned items, baked goods and arts and crafts.
Horse shoes, tractors and cows took over Depot Park where kids took part in three-legged and potato sack races and watermelon seed spitting contests. Even Mayor Max Townson tested his seed spitting prowess with local kids.
“This is fantastic for the city of Cullman and Cullman County,” Townson said as he relaxed in a chair in one of the many tents. “We’re showcasing Cullman and how it is the number one place to live, work, play and worship.”
“This is the first year we’ve done this, and from what I can see, I’d say it was a huge success. We’ve had people come from all the way in California to folks from Birmingham to Blount and Morgan counties.”
A combined effort of the Alabama Cooperative System, the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce, the Farm City Committee, and the Cullman County Master Gardener’s Association and sponsored by Trigreen Equipment, Farm Y’all festival’s mission was to bring awareness of local farmers and how they impact our community and our world.
Tiffeny Owens can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 256-734-2131, ext. 135.