A little-known piece of Southern agricultural history is celebrated every fall at the International Cowpea Festival and Cook-off in Charleston, a small, rural community in East Tennessee. This yearâ€TMs festival is Saturday, September 14, and includes a cook-off among professional chefs whipping up delectable cowpea recipes; food sampling (of course); a marketplace featuring local crafts and produce; kidsâ€TM activities; and live music. What is a cowpea, you ask? If youâ€TMre new to the South, you may not know that “cowpea” is the general name for black-eyed peas, field peas, crowder peas, cream peas and purple-hull peas. And, if youâ€TMre new to the area, you also may never have tasted any of these beauties until recently. Charleston was once a large grower and exporter of cowpeas and was heralded as the “Cowpea Capital of the United States.” Known scientifically as avigna unguiculata, the cowpea got its common name because the peas were first fed to livestock as a strong source of protein. It didnâ€TMt take long for people to realize cowpeasâ€TM health benefits and flavor, and these peas became a staple on southern plates. The International Cowpea Festival and Cook-off honors a true authentic slice of Tennesseeâ€TMs agri-heritage. There will also be a heritage area sharing other parts of Charlestonâ€TMs story, such as Cherokee, Civil War and Wild River history. The event is presented by another Tennessee original, Bushâ€TMs Best. Details: