Tiny Emerson boasts a population of 368 residents… but during the last weekend of June each year, the town grows by thousands. Visitors from all over the United States converge to celebrate the hallowed purplehull pea and to watch earnest racers vie against each other to see who is best on the dirt track with a tiller.
The 25th annual PurpleHull Pea Festival & World Championship Rotary Tiller Race will be held June 28 this year. The festival garners exposure and pays homage to purplehull peas, a local delicacy found in most south Arkansas backyard gardens.
If there is one thing the festival is known for – besides peas – it’s the World Championship Rotary Tiller Race. The world record for covering 200 feet of plowed ground was set by Shane Waller of Junction City, who piloted a modified tiller over the course in 5.72 seconds, an average speed of almost 24 miles an hour.
The world championships are the highlight of the tiller racing season. But then again, they are the entirety of the tiller racing season! Other events include the World Cup PurpleHull Pea Shelling Competition, Great PurpleHull Peas & Cornbread Cook-off, antique tractor show, Million Tiller Parade, fireworks, Pea-Meals, Pea-Stompin' Street Dance, arts, crafts, youth talent contest, and farmers market. For more details visit purplehull.com or call 501-416-4657.