Whiskey, Cornbread and a guest from Denmark

Ila Dean Hayes, right, receives an award.

It was a nice week. Spring was showing off her fresh colors and the pollen count was high, but then it rained, and the wind blew much of the beautiful misery away. Saturday was stable enough for the Copper Barrel Distillery annual event, Shinetopia — an outdoor benefit concert, cook-off and car show around the heritage of moonshine.

Everyone seemed to be having a great time. The Moon Runners Food Truck’s meatloaf on a stick was a huge hit. Cameraman Tim said the delightful meatloaf, snugly wrapped with bacon and glazed with a BBQ moonshine sauce, was a treat fit for Nordic nobility. Shiners Stash Jerky was another big hit, with their sample of moonshine infused jerky with various flavor profiles.

Listing to story-teller Dub Harris recount tales of moonshiners from his youth, it was not hard to imagine them in the woods making a fresh batch of whiskey and chewing on some jerky to fuel the long hours of work.

And then I met Ila Dean Hayes who had two submissions for the cornbread cookoff. She is a charming lady with children and grandchildren who unconditionally love her rendition of traditional corn bread. “It’s important that it’s made in a cast iron skillet that has a slight outward slop,” she said. With such a glowing review, pride in her culinary mastery and endorsements by so many who love her, I naturally ask for the recipe.

My request was somewhat fulfilled in that she did share the simple list of ingredients; however, she did not share the amounts because she has never used exact measurements. For Ida, it’s a feeling about how much is right. She just knows how much to use and that’s the way it is.

She did share that for many years she has only used the fresh ground cornmeal from Linneys Mill. “It’s fresh and it tastes good,” she said.

Ila knows how to carry on a good conversation. I was honored to get to know her and I was pleased to see at the end of the day that with steep completion, Ida received two mentions for her traditional cornbread submissions; An honorable mention for one and second place for another; however there is no doubt in my mind that for those who love Ida, she always comes in first place.

A few days later I visited with Jan Kronsell from Denmark. Over the past 19 years, he has vacationed in the United States and 14 of the 19 years he has visited the Carolinas. He often stays in a Bed and Breakfast because he feels as if he gets to know the local area better. We had a great visit and made plans to visit again when Jan and his family return to the US for summer travels. Jan is one of the many who have become captivated by Tom Dooley’s story. It’s interesting that a person from Denmark would take on the task of learning so much about our legendary Tom Dooley, so much so that Jan recently released a novella on the subject titled, “The Doctor’s Secret.” Another book is in the works as well.

The Carolinas have many fascinations that spark the curious nature of those not from here. It’s a nice thing to take a moment and get to know those who visit. In doing so we make new friends who will often visit again.

Carl White is the executive producer and host of the award winning syndicated TV show “Carl White’s Life In the Carolinas.” The weekly show can be seen in the Greenville, Spartanburg viewing market on WLOS ABC 5 a.m. Saturdays and 1:30 p.m. Sundays at WMYA My 40. Visit www.lifeinthecarolinas.com, email White at Carl@lifeinthecarolinas.com