The Arc of Appalachia Proudly Presents the 38th Annual

John Roger Simon Sorghum Festival

Live music, food, Appalachian heritage crafts

October 1 & 2, 2022, 10 AM to 4 PM

Parking and Admission are free

The John Roger Simon Sorghum Festival is back!!  After running for 37 straight years, the annual festival was thought to be permanently retired in 2018 as an inevitable consequence of its aging organizers. The story,  however, took a surprising turn this year when the non-profit Arc of Appalachia and John Roger Simon collaborated to bring the Sorghum Festival back to life. The event will be back for its 38th season on the weekend of October 1 & 2, 2022 – held outside West Portsmouth on Carey’s Run-Pond Creek Road.

This beloved community celebration takes place at John Roger Simon’s historic well-preserved 5th-generation French homestead on the banks of Pond Creek, framed by the farm’s 500-plus acres of forested Appalachian hills. The event features the making of sorghum syrup, heritage crafts demonstrations, southern food, and the jamming of musicians playing old-time music.

What is sorghum and how is it grown? Sorghum is a sturdy grass that is cultivated around the world as an important food crop. A staple in the Appalachian diet since the mid-1800’s, it is planted in early spring and its robust canes are harvested in the fall. The canes are pressed and the juice produced is cooked until it thickens into a natural sweetener with many culinary applications. Only 10 gallons of the sweet juice are needed to produce 1 gallon of syrup. During the festival, you can watch the process from start to finish and purchase fresh sorghum syrup to take home with you as supplies last.

Celebrate Appalachian Folk Art & Music. Old-time musicians from around the region will once again wend their way to the festival to linger for just a few hours or stay the entire weekend. Music will erupt unpredictably from impromptu music circles, showcasing all kinds of traditional stringed instruments. Artisans will also gather at the farm to demonstrate rural heritage crafts, like corn husk dolls and wheat weavings, and rural life skills that persisted longer in Appalachia than the rest of the nation, such as spinning wool, quilting, and soap-making.

Come hungry! Hot dogs with Bea’s homemade meat sauce and chips, bean soup & corn bread, and sorghum-sweetened baked goods are once again on the menu and will be available for purchase throughout the event.

Tour the Historic Simon Farm Homestead. The legacy of the Simon family dates back to the middle 1800’s, when Jean Baptiste Narjoz.migrated from France to this handsome hill-country Farm in Scioto County. His daughter married John Simon, who is the great grandfather of the event’s founder, John Roger Simon. Together they built the two-story farmhouse in 1864 that still stands on the site today, virtually unaltered, along with a number of historic barns and outbuildings — all built with with lumber cut on a water-powered sawmill that the Simon family operated on Pond Creek.

One of the outbuildings on the property that will be open for touring by visitors is a museum of old farm implements – tools that were used by John’s family and his friends and neighbors in earlier times. 

Enjoy a beautiful natural setting.  The Sorghum Festival also honors the splendor of the Appalachian forests and landscapes that inspired the culture and lives of Appalachian peoples. The Simon Farm protects hundreds of acres of mature white oak woodlands – a forest much older than those typically found in Ohio. Visitors to the farm are encouraged to tune in to the deep connection between nature and Appalachian culture throughout the event. 

Who is the Arc of Appalachia? Founded in 1995, the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System is a non-profit organization dedicated to land preservation. Our work includes acquiring and stewarding wildlands in the Ohio region; creating sanctuaries where people can connect with the natural world; teaching about our forest heritage to inspire a global conservation ethic; and honoring, in our work and our teachings, our Native American legacies. We have raised over $22 million for wildlands preservation – today protecting and managing over 8000 acres of nature preserves in 24 preserve regions in Appalachian Ohio.

The sorghum festival in full swing. Photo by Gary Hurn.

The Simon historic homestead. Photo by Nancy Stranahan.

John Simon and crew cooking sorghum. Photo by Gary Hurn.

A photo of the pastoral fields on John Simon Farm.