The clash of seasons that is often September bears fruit to one special vegetable — the sweet potato.
“A brand new, fresh crop just came out this week,” said Carolyn Carter, of Rockford General Store, which will once again celebrate this harvest with a Sweet Potato Festival planned for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“It’s our state vegetable,” Carter said, describing the festival as a way to “stand up and show appreciation” for the versatile tuber.
The free annual event, now in its 19th year, offers a variety of local artisans, craft vendors and live music set within the historic Rockford community.
“It’s just a small little festival,” Carter said, one that’s managed to maintain its strong local connection over the years.
“It’s not so huge that you get lost, but it’s busy enough to keep you excited,” she said, adding that the event provides a good excuse to view the historic village.
Musical acts will include R.G. Absher, Nikki Fellows, Justin Chrissman and The Stan Bobbitt Band.
The entertainment will also feature folk singing and storytelling.
“This year we are having our own local celebrity, ‘The Log Whisperer,’” Carter said, referring to Kevin Thomas, a Dobson resident who is known for his work restoring and building log cabins.
“He’s becoming right famous,” she said of Thomas, who has been featured on various television programs.
“He’s talented, very talented,” Carter continued. “He’ll take a tobacco barn or two and build you the greatest-looking log home.”
The Log Whisperer will be at the festival all day to meet those attending and to showcase small wooden wares.
Despite the celebrity guest, the guest of honor at the festival is, of course, the sweet potato.
“Every year we do a wide variety of sweet potato recipes,” Carter said, “all made from scratch at the Rockford General Store.”
The event coordinator guessed that two perennial favorites are the sweet potato sonkers and sweet potato pie.
“Those are the two original recipes,” she said, “the two oldest, probably what started it.”
The festival was the inception of Annie Gray Seats Barnett, the original owner and operator of Rockford General Store, which is also on the Surry Sonker Trail.
The event, and the beloved sweet potato recipes, were continued when the current management purchased the store about 12 years ago.
“It’s a little different. You don’t see too many sweet potato festivals,” Carter said.
“We’ve tried to add more variety of sweet potato foods. We always try to add one if not two different things every year,” she said.
In addition to the pie and sonker, the offerings include fried sweet potato pie, sweet potato roll-up, sweet potato fudge and sweet potato cake, sweet potato biscuits, sweet potato coffee and sweet potato creamer.
New this year will be sweet potato brownies and sweet potato cookies — the recipes field tested by a lucky focus group of regulars.
“There’s a lot of sweet potato stuff to choose from,” said Carter, adding that sweet potato cornbread will be offered with pinto beans, which are also in season.
The recipes, new and old, typically pass with flying colors, Carter said “So far — we never have any left.”
For more information visit RockfordGeneralStore.com or the store’s Facebook page.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.