In case you’re not from the South, I have to tell you that grits are a big deal down here. Such a big deal that people argue about the proper way to prepare them, they’re served at every breakfast and brunch spot, and there’s even a World Grits Festival.
Yeah, you read that right. A World Grits Festival. It’s held in Saint George, South Carolina, and has been going on there since the very first one in 1986.
Grits Eating Champions
According to the town of Saint George, it was discovered back in 1985 that Saint George ate more grits per capita than any other place in the world. They were literally the grits eating champions! And that’s how the festival was born. It’s been held there every April since, in this small Southern town outside of Charleston, SC.
It has turned into a 3-day long affair, with events spanning Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. There are carnival rides, live music and dance, a parade, arts and crafts, an annual 5K race, and plenty of contests to compete in.
Grits Eating Contest
In case you were wondering, there is indeed a grits eating contest. This year saw contestant Tom McCoskey get his seventh consecutive first place win.
When McCoskey won, he said, “Today is a bright spot,” with a big grin, “I’m happy.” His sister was only a second or two behind him. “She’s got a few second place trophies,” he said. “I don’t know what those are like.”
Rolling in the Grits
The most important event, though, is the “Rolling in the Grits” contest.
It’s exactly what it sounds like. Competitors submerge themselves in an inflatable pool filled with grits, and try to collect the most grits in their clothes. According to committee member Cassandra Francis, the record for this contest is 66 pounds of grits.
People come from all over to witness the Rolling in the Grits contest, and take in the rest that the weekend has to offer. You’ll easily find attendees from California all the way to New York. The festival this year pulled British chef and TV personality Jon Ashton, along with his film crew.
“They want to see people rolling in the grits,” said Cassandra Francis. “It’s something you don’t see anywhere else.”