Sorghum Festival in Mount Ida!

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This painting is by Thomas Hart Benton and is called 'Sorghum Mill.

Sorghum is a sweet syrup made by cooking the juice squeezed from sorghum cane. If you are wanting to by chance see how sorghum is made, the annual Sorghum Festival is tomorrow (November 1) at the Heritage House Museum of Montgomery County in Mount Ida!

This annual event is a homage to the tradition of making sorghum in Montgomery County.

“It is always good when we can remind people of the “good old days” which in fact involved a lot of hard work,” said executive director of the museum Emilie Kinney. “Rural families could not go to the store to buy the majority of their needs. They had to provide for themselves. Making sorghum was very important to many families because it was a nutritious staple that carried them through the winter. So many people remember sorghum and biscuits as a filling meal.”

According to Kinney, families in a community would join together to cook sorghum. Each would grow their own cane. They would strip and cut it and then haul it to the nearby neighbor who had a cook stand and mill. They would work together to produce this basic staple. Even children in the family would have a job on cook day. Maybe it was bringing the pine knots to the cook stand fire to keep it going.

For the event, volunteers grow, strip and cut the cane and bring it to the museum grounds for cooking. A mule is brought on site and harnessed to operate a small mill to press the cane. And a larger mill on site is engine operated. “People love the mule,” said Kinney.  “He will be harnessed at 10 a.m. and will remain on the property even after they stop using the small mill. Often they will switch to the larger engine operated mill just to get the juice flowing quicker.”

Along with making sorghum, vintage equipment will also be demonstrated during the festival. And on a tasty note, biscuits and sorghum will be served to guests too.

“Many people have only heard of squeezing cane and cooking sorghum so it’s a great eye opener for them,” said Kinney about the festival. “A lot of folks remember making sorghum in their families and appreciate the nostalgic reconnect with their past. Many a grown man has gotten a gleam in his eye talking about tasting the skimmings as a child while the adults tended the cook pan. There’s just nothing like fond reminiscing!”

The festival starts at 10 a.m. and is free for the public to attend. If you might want to check it out, the museum  is located at 819 Luzerne St.