Adventure Arkansas: Cane Hill Harvest Festival

This week on Adventure Arkansas we travelled to Cane Hill, the first permanent settlement in Northwest Arkansas.

The harvest festival dates back to the 1960s when it was called "Old Pioneer Days." It's a celebration of the way things were back when Cane Hill was founded.

You'll find vendors offering anything from homemade soap to homemade salsa.

Bobby Braly's family has been in Cane Hill for five generations. He's now the director working to preserve the history of the town.  He says "the settlement goes back to 1827 it was the first permanent settlement in Northwest Arkansas the first public school was here in the state of Arkansas in 1834."

The college predates the University of Arkansas and recently underwent a full renovation. This is one of sixteen properties listed on the national register of historic places in Cane Hill. Most are undergoing or will undergo renovations.

It looks great from the air but on the ground... Historic Cane Hill has also developed a network of marked trails about a mile long which takes you over bridges and past historical homesteads. But that's not the big draw this weekend.

Bobby says, "The big focus is sorghum molasses so you'll see the sorghum cane is grown here onsite. They start planting it in May and it grows all summer. It's a tropical crop like corn. They harvest it and they have a mule and horse that turns the press and that's what everyone loves coming out to see.

Behind the college is a field which grows sorghum cane. It's planted in May and grows all summer until September.

Folks say, "They cut it, strip it, and we run it through these presses. That's the horse press, an 1895 horse press. The one up there is a tractor press from about 1900."

When the cane is pressed it produces a green pulp. The syrup then runs underground and emerges from a pipe where it's funneled into a drier pan. After hours of simmering and swishing back and forth the syrup is cooked down to a sweet molasses.

I even tasted the homemade sorghum made right here in Cane Hill.

The harvest festival occurs annually on the 3rd of September and though this year's festival is in the books, the trails are open year round and you can stop by the historic Cane Hill museum anytime Wednesday to Saturday from 10 to 2PM

Sampling sorghum where you live, I'm 5NEWS Meteorologist Garrett Lewis.

Segment Sponsored By: Adventure Subaru