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Driving down Hwy. 355, there is no traffic. One can admire the beautiful color of fall. You can feel almost isolated from the world in this awesome place. Seemingly out of nowhere, cars and trucks are everywhere, huge RV’s have parked and set up camp here along the Kentucky River and then you hear it start. The sorghum engine is making its sweet juice, you have arrived at the Sorghum Fest.
Men are throwing wood in a hole in this big contraption that looks like a train engine. Smoke boils from the top and the wheel starts turning.
Another individual is feeding this machine stalks, which looks very similar to corn but it is sugar cane. The machine squeezes this material and a liquid comes out of a “downspout,” which is strained and then placed in a large vat and boiled. This vat is also heated with wood. This liquid becomes a syrup like substance and is then placed in jars. A sample was offered by catching a drip on your finger from a spout from a large container. One taste and you have to take a jar home.
This is how sorghum is made and it is delicious. It looks and tastes very much like molasses.
This festival occurs every year on the second weekend in October. People arrive by car, truck, boat, motorcycle and even horse and buggy.
While we were visiting with the owners of the sorghum operation, a horse-drawn wagon arrived from Turner’s Station. The driver, Joe Buckley, and friends rode four hours for the 20-mile trip. It did require three pit stops for the ladies and to let the horses rest.
Jay and Ruth Gibson have been having this festival several years. Mr. Gibson is self-taught in the making of sorghum and offers his knowledge to anyone who is interested in hearing and learning. The sugar cane is grown on their farm in Carroll County. Their winters are spent in Florida, which explains why I was offered roasted oysters straight from the Gulf Coast, right here on the bank of Kentucky River.
Also offering a wonderful demonstration of yester’ year was Lawson Adcock with his horse-drawn hay baler. “Ricky,” the horse, protested a couple of times when the wheel would catch and make him pull a little harder. The hay was baled and wrapped with wire. One young man told me they weigh about 100 pounds each. The baler was originally built in 1910 and was painstakingly restored by Mr. Adcock and friends. This was their first demonstration and it was deemed successful as they had baled all the available hay, and Ricky was ready for a rest.
Another interesting individual was Ron Devore, a gifted artist who was playing dulcimer for the crowd. The instrument was handmade and of beautiful craftsmanship. I asked if he taught music, since I am the proud owner of a dulcimer. He said he did not read music but used numbers just for the frets, a little different from “do re mi.”
We were invited back and with a promise of good food, fun, music and dancing. I am already looking forward to returning next year, second weekend in October.