Country music and country cooking

In the Southeast, stellar opportunities abound to enjoy great country music and scrumptious country cooking. Here are two examples.

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion

The Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion is an annual music festival hosted by the Birthplace of Country Music Museum (BOCM) in Bristol, Tennessee. It has been named one of Rolling Stone’s “Top 20 Tours and Festivals.” This year, it was held Sept. 20-22 and boasted more than 120 bands on 19 stages with a lineup that includes Wynonna and The Big Noise, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Patty Griffin, Marty Stuart, Sam Bush and dozens more performers.

But there’s much more than music going on at the festival. A new event this year was the Bristol Rhythm Road Race, a 10K run and 5K run/walk in historic downtown Bristol. Attendees could also check out the Farm and Fun Time variety show, a special live radio broadcast, join a free “Guided Jam” session where you can show off your guitar skills, or check out a special exhibit of photographs by the multi-Grammy winner Marty Stuart at the BOCM. There’s also yoga in Cumberland Square Park as well as Children’s Day events at Anderson Park.

Shrimp & Grits Festival

Over in Georgia, you can get in three days dedicated to one of the staple dishes in Southern cuisine: shrimp and grits. The Jekyll Island Shrimp and Grits Festival, is an award-winning event featuring music, activities and, most importantly, great food.

There are food tents and trucks offering tastings throughout the weekend, but for the main event, Georgia chefs compete for the title “Georgia’s Best Shrimp & Grits.” The competition is sponsored by Quaker with cash prizes for the first-, second- and third-place winners. The judges will be Virginia Willis, Todd R. White and Olivia Rader, and the host will be James Beard Award semifinalist Matthew Raiford.

Attendees can also dance off those good eats thanks to the bands performing on four different stages, and if you really want to burn some calories, you can run in the Go for the Grits 5K on Sunday. There’s also a Craft Brew Fest for the beer lovers, a tent for nature lovers to learn about the natural wonders and wildlife of Jekyll Island, a Kids’ Zone and an artists’ market.

You can go sightseeing and dolphin-watching on a 90-minute boat cruise, get an interactive tour of the latest models of RVs and get samples of various, homemade packaged goodies along Georgia Grown Alley. There’s even an escape room designed by the National Guard where you can test your skills at being on a military cyber team.