I love okra. Okra fried, okra in gumbo, and the way it was served when I was in The Gambia, cooked in a tomato-based sauce with fish or chicken, seasoned with cayenne pepper and ladled over rice. In Irmo, South Carolina, folks are so in love with okra they have a festival that pays it tribute. At The Okra Strut the huge inflatable Okra Man is a mascot of sorts. This is the festival where people of all ages see how much okra they can chow down in an okra eating contest in between carnival rides at the Okryland section. The Okra Strut Parade is the state’s largest festival parade.
This is no small carnival either. 50,000 people are expected to show up at this two -day event, September 28-29. Perhaps they are hoping to take a prize home from the Great Okra Giveaway, although the days are also filled with performing groups and appearances by beauty queens.
South Carolina is also the state with the World Grits Festival. There seems to be a fondness for food that either you love or you hate. If you are an okra lover, here are some recipes in case you want to branch out from the usual breaded in cornmeal and fried.