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Sorghum time

SOUTH POINT — Fall is right around the corner and so is the 11th annual Sorghum and Bluegrass Festival.

If you’ve never been to the festival, you can expect a lot of homemade sorghum, apple butter and plenty of bluegrass music.

“It’s a big time for the family,” said Ivan Smith, organizer and founder of the event. “Bring a lawn chair and come on out.”

This year’s festival will be on Sept. 18.

Smith can recall when he first started the festival.

“We had this property here. We made a stage,” he said. “The first year we just had a dinner and some music. We’ve been doing it ever since.”

The free festival is held on land that Smith owns off of Sand Road behind the new South Point High School. He said the festival has continued to grow every year.

“We’ve had a good turn out,” Smith said. “I kind of expect a better crowd, unless something goes wrong with the weather. We usually have 300 or 400 people.”

The gates will open at 6 a.m. and the apple butter and sorghum making will begin.

Smith said that the sugar cane for the sorghum was planted at the first of June and takes about 110 to 120 days to mature.

“It’s a unique process,” Smith said about sorghum making.

After the cane is harvested, the seedpods are cut from the top and the leaves are stripped from the stalks.

The stalks are then run through mill rollers that squeeze the juice into barrels. The raw cane juice then flows down into the sorghum pans where it is heated by a wood-burning furnace. The juice cooks down and turns brown.

Smith said that it takes three to four hours to produce the first jar of sorghum.

“People like to watch it being made,” said Smith.

He also said that it is no easy task to make sorghum.

“It has to be a special person,” said Smith about the resident sorghum expert, Lowell Moon. “It’s a special skill. He hardly has time to take a bite to eat.”

The apple butter will be made once again by the Eastern Star Lodge of South Point.

Chesapeake’s own Dan Fulks will also be back with his famous beans and corn bread. The beans are cooked on an open fire in a large kettle.

“He always sells out,” said Smith.

The music this year will include the Solid Rock Singers from Tri-State Baptist Temple, Sand Valley Grass, Mountain View and Bobby Maynard and the Breakdown. Smith will also be performing in his own band, Stillwater.

There will also be wagon rides for the children, horseshoes, cornhole and clog dancing.

Smith encourages everyone to “just come out and have a good time.”