March 20, 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact person:  Bill Dailey (501) 315-7373, Tommy Butler (870) 547-2795
Email: purplehull@juno.com
Web site: www.purplehull.com

Emerson Purple Hull Pea Seed Giveaway April 1st - No Fooling

   There’s good news for people living within the Emerson School District.  On April 1st they can obtain purple hull pea seed for free.  No fooling. 

   Thanks to donations by Lake Sue Nursery & Farm Supply of Magnolia, Bunch Wholesale, Inc. (BWI) of Texarkana, and C.T. Smith Seed Company of Pleasanton, Texas, the Emerson Purple Hull Pea Promotion Board has approximately 300 pounds of purple hull seed to give away. 

   It’s all part of a long-range plan to make Emerson-grown purple hulls a sought after commodity.  The seed giveaway is just one part of that plan. 

   “We believe the world’s best purple hull peas are grown in the Emerson area,” said Tommy Butler, Executive Director of the Emerson Purple Hull Pea Promotion Board.  “It’s time we take advantage of that fact.” 

  Local residents in and around Emerson have long had a great affection for purple hulls.  Many spent their youthful summers picking, shelling and eating large quantities of them.

     In fact, so beloved are the peas, that Emerson pays homage to these delicious pink-eyed lentils of summer by hosting the PurpleHull Pea Festival each year on the last weekend in June.

   A new part of the plan to promote Emerson purple hulls is this year’s creation of the “Emerson Purple Hull Pea Farmer of the Year” award.

   “We have some great purple hull pea farmers in Emerson,” said Butler.  “It’s time we need recognize their efforts.”

   Emerson’s premiere purple hull pea farmer will be presented the award at the PurpleHull Pea Festival.  It will be based upon the quality and quantity of peas the farmer provides for sale at the festival, as judged by the festival’s chairman or designated representative.

   The board is requesting that growers provide at least a bushel of the resulting purple hull peas for sale at the PurpleHull Pea Festival, or for use in the pea meals that are sold at the festival. 

   “Every year at the festival we have people come from long distances wanting to buy purple hull peas,” says festival spokesman Bill Dailey.  “There’s never enough.  An awful lot of money could be made if some of the locals would just raise enough peas and sell them at the festival.  There’s a ready-made market.”

   To help jump start the process, the Emerson Purple Hull Pea Promotion Board was formed last year, and donations for seed were solicited.  The board has decided that, in order to be classified as “Emerson Purple Hull Peas,” they must be grown within the current Emerson School District.

   The seed will be given away Tuesday, April 1, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the new Emerson City Hall, which is the former Peoples Bank building.  To be eligible for the seed, the peas have to be planted within the confines of the Emerson School District.  There will be a limit of 3 pounds of seed per family, and will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis until the supply is exhausted.

   “It’s sort of reverse from the normal course of events,” says Dailey.  “Usually a festival springs up from a local industry.  Here, we’re trying to start a local industry by capitalizing on the name recognition of a festival.”

   More information about the Emerson Purple Hull Pea Promotion Board can be obtained by going to a section of the PurpleHull Pea Festival’s Web site, www.purplehull.com/peas, by emailing purplehull@juno.com, or by phoning Executive Director Tommy Butler at (870) 547-2795.

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