Cosby Ramp Festival

Cosby Ramp Festival

First Sunday in May
A festival started in 1951 to honor an obnoxious plant—the ramp. Held on Kineuvista Hill near Cosby, Tenn. (which is near Knoxville), the festival is touted as the first and largest of the ramp celebrations.
The ramp, related to the onion, is scientifically designated Allium triccorcum lilaceae . The name "ramp" supposedly was a shortening of rampson, the name of a similar plant. Devotees of the ramp say it has a mouth-watering, sweet flavor with a hint of garlic; they also concede that it has an astoundingly strong smell—like that of a wild onion multiplied a thousand times. It was once used in medicinal tonics, the theory being that the odor was enough to ward off germs and certainly germy people. It is rich in vitamin C and was the first spring vegetable for mountain people. Ramp harvest festivals of an informal sort are an old Appalachian custom handed down from the Indians, who taught the European settlers how to cook ramps.
Several days before the festival, a group of ramp pluckers goes into the mountains to pick and clean the ramps. The festival lunch, of course, features fried ramp with eggs cooked with streaked meat, a kind of bacon. The festival music is bluegrass, gospel, and country, and the events include the crowning of the Maid of Ramps. About 5,000 to 6,000 attend.
The Polk County Ramp Festival, a similar but smaller affair, is held in late April in Benton, Tenn. It has bluegrass music all day, and awards are given to the oldest and youngest ramp eaters, the largest family, and the person who has come the farthest distance (winners of this last have even come from outside of the U.S.).
CONTACTS:
Cosby Ramp Festival
Kineauvista Hill
Cosby, TN 37821
423-623-1009
www.cosbyrampfestival.org
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave. S.E.
Washington, DC 20540
202-707-5000; fax: 202-707-2076
www.loc.gov
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