The sandy soil in Dooly County in central Georgia is amazingly fertile.
Forests of tall pines bound for pulp mills cover much of the landscape that isn’t reserved for cotton, pecan and peanut crops. By early November the cotton plants have matured, shed their leaves and are ready for harvesting.
Machine-harvested cotton is rolled into huge plastic-wrapped bales before the faux snow-sprinkled fields are covered with real snow, eclipsing King Cotton’s presence.
Central Georgia is also rich with our country’s history. Eatonton, birthplace of Joel Chandler Harris, is 96 miles north of Vienna. The young Harris got his first job as a typesetter for a Confederate newspaper in Eatonton, published on the Turnwold Plantation.
Some of the stories Harris learned from enslaved people on the plantation were later retold through his fictional Uncle Remus. Harris’ semi-autobiographical novel, On the Plantation, is based upon his experiences in Eatonton.
Pecans, peanuts, peaches and sweet onions also emerge from these sandy fertile fields. Be careful where you step, however, as the many fire ant mounds you’ll see are not hospitable to humans. Locals say the best antidote to fire ant stings is bleach — the sooner the better.
The culinary cornucopia in this area overflows with pecans, pecan pie, chocolate-covered pecans, pecan brittle, roasted peanuts, chocolate-covered peanuts, peanut brittle, fresh peaches in season, peach pies, peach preserves, chow chow, fried green tomatoes, Brunswick Stew, grits, country ham, cheese, sausages, barbecue sauces, biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, barbecue sauce and, of course, pork barbecue.
Pork barbecue is available year round in Georgia, but the biggest celebration of the cuisine happens every year in early November. The 34th Annual Big Pig Jig in Vienna was on Nov. 6 and 7. This year’s theme, “Big Pig Jig’s Diner at the Hog Hop,” was reflected in team décor and dress.