Several years ago, members of the Monticello Woman's Club were looking for a way to raise funds to purchase new "Welcome to Monticello" signs. According to June Ramsey, who was serving as president of the Monticello Woman's Club at the time, the group needed an idea that would not only help them cover the cost of the signs but would also help the club promote the cornmeal that is sold at the Mill Springs Gift Shop.
As a solution to their situation, club members decided to sponsor a pinto bean and cornbread lunch at historic Mill Springs Park. So, the ladies got busy and organized the first ever Mill Springs Cornbread Festival.
Club members borrowed a couple of tents and set up in the area of the park where the cannon is located, according to Ramsey. The event turned out to be a huge success and laid the foundation for one of the most popular festivals in Wayne County.
Today, the annual Mill Springs Cornbread Festival continues to be a crowd-pleaser for local residents and tourists alike. One change that has occurred over the years is the location of the festival, which is now set up in the parking lot of the park.
According to Ramsey, the festival was moved to the parking lot a few years after the initial event. She noted that water lines were being installed in the area where the festival was usually set up and it had rained during the days prior to the event. Ramsey said that club members and their spouses were unable to get their vehicles to the area to set up their tents and tables for the festival. As a result, the Corps of Engineers allowed the club to use the parking lot for the festival, which "turned out to be a good thing," said Ramsey.
The location of the event may have changed since the initial cornbread festival was held but one thing hasn't: people can still enjoy a good meal, a beautiful view and a variety of other activities during the event. This year's festival promises to have a variety of activities that will appeal to people of all ages.
The Monticello Woman's Club will sponsor their annual Mill Springs Cornbread Festival this Saturday, May 28. One of the highlights of the event is the pinto bean lunch, which includes cornbread "hoecakes," pinto beans or green beans, onions, relish, dessert and a drink. The cost for the pinto bean lunch is $5. A hot dog lunch—which includes a hog dog, chips, relish, dessert and a drink—will also be available. The cost of the hot dog lunch is $4. Lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Visitors to the festival will also have the opportunity to get a look inside the mill, which will be open for tours during the event.
In addition, there will be a mill grinding exhibition at 2 p.m.
Festival goers can also check out the various arts and crafts exhibits that will be set up for the event. Entertainment will be provided by The Bell Tones and Fall Creek Boys.
In addition to enjoying lunch and the various other activities offered at the festival, visitors can also check out the Mill Springs Gift Shop, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This will allow festival goers the opportunity to buy some of the cornmeal that the shop is known for and take it home to enjoy.
The Mill Springs Cornbread Festival has become a popular event in
Wayne County. The crowds have become larger and people continue to
support the event, noted Ramsey. She added that it is wonderful to see people returning each year to support the event. It is also nice to see new faces in the crowd each year, as several tourists also stop by the festival.
Ramsey noted that she has been pleased with the success of the festival, as well as the support the event has received from the community. According to Ramsey, several property owners near the park have allowed the Monticello Woman's Club to use their property for parking during the event, and this has been a tremendous help to the club and to the success of the festival.
Although Ramsey has been involved in the Cornbread Festival from the very beginning, she still enjoys it. She likes having the opportunity to work with the Monticello Woman's Club to promote the Mill Springs Park, a place that has special memories for Ramsey.
"I have always loved the Mill Springs area and I think we have a beautiful park there," said Ramsey. "I grew up in that area and it's just a very special place for me."