Emerson: Home of the World Championship Rotary Tiller Races


The engines of the world’s fastest garden tillers will be roaring during the PurpleHull Pea Festival & World Championship Rotary Tiller Race June 24-25 in Emerson.

You simply won’t see anything else quite like this festival. Where else in the world can you see souped-up garden tillers?

In the small town of Emerson ( population 368) high-performance tillers racing down a straightaway has become an annual tradition. Down-home, tongue-in-cheek humor is plentiful during the races and throughout the festival.

The idea for a pea festival with tiller racing was first proposed by Glen Eades, who at the time was a columnist on Emerson-area news in the Magnolia Banner-News. The festival now garners exposure and pays homage to a local delicacy found in most south Arkansas backyard gardens: purple hull peas. The delicious vegetable derives it’s name from it’s distinctive hull, which is purple.
If there is one thing the festival is known for – besides peas – it’s the World Championship Rotary Tiller Race. Souped-up garden tillers from near and far come to compete in the world’s premiere tiller racing event. The world record for covering 200 feet of plowed ground was set in 2009 by Shane Waller of Junction City, who piloted a modified tiller over the course in
5.59 seconds, an average speed of over 24 miles an hour. The world championships are the highlight of the tiller racing season, but then again, they are the tiller racing season.
The tiller race itself is scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. ( the kid’s division is at 9). Events scheduled throughout the festival also include the  Pea Shelling Competition, the Million Tiller Parade, the Pea-Stompin’ Street Dance, and more.
Emerson is located in south central Arkansas six miles north of the state’s border with Louisiana and 12 miles south of Magnolia via U.S. 79. More festival information, including a complete schedule and an online application for entering the tiller races are available at www.purplehull.com. Additional information can also be requested by phone at (870) 547-2707.
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