As a northerner, I have an unreasonably soft soft-spot for grits, but here in New York, we don’t even serve grits- much less celebrate the 27-year-old tradition of the World Grits Festival.
In fact, up here, most people don’t even really understand grits, and in restaurants, they’re only offered very rarely as a curiosity. (Which is why despite the abundance of amazing NYC restaurants, Virgil’s in the tourist-hell of Times Square remains my all time favorite for their wings and grits, because, hot damn.) I must have been Southern in a past life, because this Yankee loves nothing more than a bowl of grits with hot sauce, butter and cracked pepper, and the World Grits Festival seems like a place to embrace the wonder that is the unappreciated grit.
Ground zero for grits consumption seems to be home of the World Grits Festival, in St. George, South Carolina. The festival got its start nearly three decades ago, when the local Piggly Wiggly manager mused that the demand for grits felt abnormally high. Some digging seemed to reveal a way higher than normal grits consumption per capita, and the World Grits Festival was born- and to this day, remains.
The grit-munching residents of St. George gather at the World Grits Festival to get their grit on (of course), and participate in a number of grits-adjacent activities to celebrate the humble dish. Of course, there’s a grit-eating contest, as well as a more hands-on activity in which people at the World Grits Festival dive into a pool of grits, and are weighed before and after their roll in grits. Whoever gets the largest volume of grits to stick to them wins the competition.
The World Grits Festival goes from Friday through Sunday, and more than 40,000 people descend on St. George to get in on the grits while the gritting is good.