On Saturday, October 6th, I attended the 207th annual Indian Field Campmeeting. What a unique Southern cultural experience! Camp meetings are ostensibly religious revival meetings, but to my eyes, they've become as much about fellowship and food as their original intent.
The meeting ground is a large open area, probably 5 acres in size, that is surrounded by 100 "tents". These tents are really tin and wood barn-like structures with a cooking, dining, and sleeping areas. Each tent has its own outhouse outside the perimeter of the tents. The tents are private property and most have been passed down through generations of families. Of course, since this camp meeting has been active for over 200 years in the Deep South and is steeped in tradition, it is a segregated event and all of the families are white. Interestingly, there is a corresponding black camp meeting that occurs a week later at a nearby "campground".
Inside the circle of tents, in the middle of the open area, is a large open-air tabernacle. Worshipers are called to service with a large handmade horn. Since all of the buildings have bare earth floors, fresh straw is strewn over all the floors to keep down the dust.
Arguably the main attraction of the camp meeting is the food. Traditionally, each tent hires a black cook to prepare meals all week long. These women prepare huge and delicious meals of traditional Southern country dishes such as pork, fried chicken, collard greens, rutabagas, lima beans, black-eyed peas, etc. These meals are prepared over handmade, wood-fired stoves. Even though I was only there for two meals, I think I gained 5 pounds.