Celebrate the autumn harvest this month in the quaint village of Usquepaugh, where more than 85 local artists and businesses will come together for the Johnny Cake Festival at Kenyon’s Grist Mill.
Johnny cakes are a traditional New England food made from white corn that is ground between two stones.
In Colonial days, Native Americans taught the settlers how to make these delicious “journey cakes” to travel with. Kenyon’s Grist Mill has been making johnny cake meal since 1696.
“This is a real community event, keeping in line with the tradition of what the grist mills were when we were an agrarian society,” said Paul Drumm III, whose family has owned the mill since 1971. “People would come to the grist mills and socialize with one another while they had their grains ground.”
Enjoy free samples of local food, drinks, wine, sweets and, of course, johnny cakes. Take a tour of the grist mill and see the grinding process. Dance to live music, visit with alpacas and sheep, and watch a variety of Old World demonstrations, such as blacksmithing, chair caning, stone carving, spinning, basket weaving and pottery-wheel demonstrations. Enjoy listening to flute playing and watch 17th-century re-enactors cook johnny cakes the old-fashioned way, over an open fire.
“We call it our Stone Soup project, because everyone contributes something to the festival,” Drumm III said.
“Come celebrate the season, learn about Rhode Island’s history and heritage, and relax in this beautiful location near the Queen’s River,” he said.
The Johnny Cake Festival will take place Oct. 20 and 21 at Kenyon’s Grist Mill. Free parking is available at the Washington County Fairgrounds, 78 Richmond Townhouse Road, Richmond, with continuous shuttles bringing visitors to the event.
Kenyon’s Grist Mill, 21 Glen Rock Road, West Kingston, R.I.: www.kenyonsgristmill.com/ 800-753-6966.