Hoppin’ John Cook-Off
5:30 pm Saturday, September 14, 2019
Show off your culinary talents! You could leave the festival with a prize and ribbon whether you are a musician or not. The cook-off is a play on the event’s name, because most everyone knows a tasty version of the dish. Folks will line up to taste what’s been cooking in the pot, and yours could be the favorite! Click HERE to register!
First place winner will receive $50 & the Golden Skillet, second place – $35, Third place – $25
Cooking will commence at 11am on Saturday, September 14. Contestants must register at the cook-off pavilion and begin cooking no later than 3:00, and serving/judging will begin at 5:30 pm
Judging will be by people’s choice. All who wish to sample the competing hoppin’ john entries will make a donation of $3 for a ballot and a spoon. Samples of each hoppin’ john entry will be served in individual cups or bowls, provided by the festival. Upon sampling all of the entries, tasters will mark their ballots.
Hoppin‘ John is to be prepared on-site in the designated cooking area. One minor exception is that contestants using dry beans may soak them at home.
To qualify as hoppin’ john, all dishes entered must contain black-eyed peas. Beyond that, you are encouraged to be creative with other ingredients and seasonings. While hoppin’ john traditionally contains pork, vegetarian variations are welcome.
A minimum of six quarts of hoppin’ john per entry is needed for judging. Make more at your own discretion… if you run out, you’ve lost potential votes!
Contestants bring their own ingredients and cookware (pots and pans, cutting boards,knives, spoons, spatulas, etc.) Let us know if you’re missing something, though, we can probably help out.
Contestants should also supply their own heat (propane camp stoves, butane burners, etc.) If you need a heat source, check in the pavilion early Saturday morning; we have additional stoves available.
As always, cook-off contestants receive FREE SATURDAY ADMISSION. Once you have registered at the cook-off pavilion on Saturday and set up your cooking table, just walk over to the ticket booth for a refund on your admission ticket ($14. Does not include camping price).
The Cook-Off is dedicated to remembering Charles Murphy and Jasen Morin. They made it happen, and we will always love them!
What is Hoppin’ John?
Hoppin’ John is a tasty Southern dish made of rice, black-eyed peas, and a variety of other ingredients and spices, often including some sort of cured pork such as bacon, ham, or fatback. It is traditionally served at New Year’s for good luck, alongside greens, cornbread, and sometimes tomatoes. The tradition—some might call it superstition—holds that eatingthese foods on the first day of they year helps ensure that in the new year, one will have an abundance of the things they symbolize: coins (black-eyed peas), cash (greens), gold (cornbread), and health (tomatoes).
As for the name of the dish, it seems time has shrouded its origin in mystery. Some say the dish was first hawked in the streets of Charleston, South Carolina in the mid-1800s by a one-legged man known as Hoppin’John. Others maintain the name comes from the age-old tradition of Southern hospitality itself, where a visitor arriving at mealtime would be invited to “hop in, John”.
Some linguists suggest the name came from the French patois spoken in much of the Caribbean, where a dish of rice, peas, and salt pork called pois a pigeon, pronounced something like “pwahahpeejawng”, was popular. Over time, English speakers, pronouncing the name more or less phonetically, perhaps with a little humor, evolved it into “Hoppin’ John”. This explanation may be plausible as much of traditional Caribbean fare comes from African culinary traditions, having been brought along to the New World by those who came involuntarily as slaves. Once here, they adapted their recipes to use locally available ingredients.