The National Cornbread Festival will be April 25 and 26 in South Pittsburg. (Photo: Will Kirk)

The National Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg is one of the premier festivals in the South. 

Thousands of people gather annually to enjoy the festival, which is just a 30-minute drive from Chattanooga. The focus is, of course, the delicious cornbread prepared in Lodge cast-iron skillets. The festival was chosen as the Best Festival in Tennessee by readers of Tennessee Magazine.

The 19th annual event features a new twist: Instead of a multientry competition, a best of cook-off will feature a look back at 10 of the first-place winning recipes throughout the history of the festival. A winner will be determined by a panel of judges. Click here for a list of finalists and recipes.

The festival takes place April 25–26. Tickets are $5 per day or free for preschool-aged children.

Andrea Gaskins won first place in the cook-off in 2014 with her roasted tomato and bacon cobbler cornbread recipe. A list of last year’s competing recipes can be found here. Gaskins is one of 10 finalists for this year’s cook-off.

In addition to cornbread, crowd favorite events such as the Miss National Cornbread Festival pageant (which takes place a week prior to the festival) and 5K road race are back for 2015. The gluttonous can participate in the frequent cornbread eating contests throughout the festival.

Guests can tour the Lodge foundry daily during the festival, including parts of the $40 million expansion. 

Musical guests include Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, Scenic City Ramblers and Peewee Moore.

The National Cornbread Festival started as a way for South Pittsburg residents to promote the sights, sounds, taste, people and history of the community. Lodge Manufacturing was founded in 1896 and continues production of some of the most revered cast-iron products in the world. 

Updated @ 3:05 p.m. on 4/13/15.