In honor of RC Cola and Moonpie’s tandem celebration, Nashville for Free’s newest blogger Meryem Dede and founder and EIC Emily Harris took the mile drive through Tennessee to attend one of the South’s largest festivals of sugar-filled traditions. Housed in Belt Buckle, Tennessee, this year’s 17th annual RC Cola/Moonpie Festival was filled with deep-fried gooey goodness, local artisans, live entertainment and some first-class people watching. For the first time ever, Nashville for Free has decided to commemorate this most festive of events with a dual post.
Meryem: The festival was about Moonpies and RC Cola, but in reality the showcase of the celebration was Bell Buckle itself. With a whopping population of 391, Bell Buckle is the quintessential small town. The main sponsors of the festival were the only stores in the town and there were attendants who had been attending since the event’s first year. I would have liked if the festival was a little more clearly organized, but with the small-town atmosphere and easygoing nature and attitude of those in attendance, it didn’t really matter if the parade ran on time or the ½ hour cloggers only performed for 10 minutes.
Emily: I grew up in a small town and spent my summers in a small town, so Bell Buckle felt really nostalgic to me. It’s the kind of place where you wonder what it is the other 364 days a year. I knew we were in for a treat when I was driving down TN-10 and my only cue to turn was a single sign placed RIGHT AT the intersection. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a Moonpie that hadn’t been sitting in my purse all day and I have to say, they were much tastier than I expected. Well, after we found them of course, which was quite the feat.
Meryem: Strangely enough, although the festival was supposedly showcasing RC Cola and Moonpies, when we first arrived it was difficult to find either. There were signs and banners and cutout figures of each treat, and yet even when we finally did find RC Cola, it was being kept chilled in a Coca Cola cooler. We walked around snacking and taking pictures with our moonpies and cola only to find naught but 50 feet away a booth selling both treats for ½ the price we had just paid. I guess we deserved it for impulse buying that much high fructose corn syrup at 9:30 in the morning. Overall though, the festival was fun and being a Northern girl from Cincinnati, Ohio, it was nice to indulge in a Saturday of Americana tradition and Southern treats.
Emily: Southern traditions and treats are great and all (especially that fried Moonpie we ate at the end), but people-watching was by far the highlight for me. Who can beat the guy dressed up like Abe Lincoln (complete with real beard) wandering around the festival like Bigfoot? I swear, I tried about 10 times to get a picture of him before I got one that wasn’t of him in the distance, walking away. At first we weren’t sure if he wasn’t just dressed that way for kicks until we saw people posing for pictures with him. I mean, Abe Lincoln was long-dead by the time Moonpies and RC Cola came along, but who are we to judge? Yeah, the festival is weird, it knows that and it plays along pretty well. In the end we had a great time and have had just about enough sugar to last us until next weekend.
-Emily and Meryem