We made good use of one of Kat’s days off to drive the forty or so miles to Gravel Switch, Kentucky. There we witnessed their annual Forkland Heritage Festival & Revue. It’s a celebration of the old ways, and a pretty good attempt to recreate them, if only for a weekend. The food is olden, the olden music is played by seasoned musicians, and among their featured attractions are a couple of early electrical generators and an ancient steam tractor. The generators were six to ten horsepower gasoline engines — each barely smaller than a Prius — that cranked out enough juice to power a couple of big light bulbs. The elephant-sized tractor replaced four mules, on a good day. But in mud the mules still had the upper hand.
If you’re wondering about the Revue part, there is a Famous Bean Supper & Drama. As their website puts it – the olden ways can take you only so far – “The beans start cooking at 6:00 each morning and smell delicious all day. Talented local performers will entertain during the supper served by local youth (all the beans & cornbread you can eat, plus sorghum cake & more!). The hilarious Drama follows. A delightful evening!”
Presumably the local performers are the subject of the Revue, and something smelled good while we were there. But we don’t like to drive at night and the prospect of being surrounded by a couple hundred people full of beans, laughing, felt worrisome. We left after an hour or so.
But first we sampled Marion County burgoo. That’s Kentucky gumbo, made from lots of vegetables and anything that flies or walks. Western Kentucky burgoo showcases mutton, which I’ve never touched but have heard has a more intense flavor than lamb. I really like lamb, and eagerly anticipated tasting a mutton burgoo. Alas, this was not to be. Central Kentucky burgoo is a mix of chicken, beef, and pork, but never mutton. And it wasn’t thick either, more like a meaty vegetable soup. But it was tasty, and the vendor who noticed my LSU cap, suggested I’d want to add pizza pepper. I did, and his advice was spot-on. Good grub for $3.
On the way out we had a little fun with the good ol’ boy directing traffic: “It’s great that ya’ll are trying to preserve the old ways, but you know that effort’s doomed to fail, right?” “Huh?” Then I sez, “You heard that little girl over there, the future of this county, just a few seconds ago?” “Naw, I’m watching cars.” Then I hit him with the awful truth: “She hollered at another kid: ‘Get out of my face, dirt-bag!’ “.