Final April Walking Tour: Ben South’s Cullman Classic Cakewalk


CULLMAN – The last of this year’s free April Walking Tours will be tomorrow, Saturday, April 29, and it’s going to be sweet. Literally.

This week’s guide will be Ben South, a real character in an outlandish, southern charmer, kind-hearted rapscallion kind of way, and he will be leading a traditional southern "cakewalk" for this year’s finale.

Ben’s characters are interesting, often over the top, and always entertaining. This week’s tour will be fun as well as informative.

Cullman County Museum associate, Drew Green, says this season’s walking tour guests have numbered above average, “And the weather has been cooperative, which always helps,” he laughed.

According to legend, the southern cakewalk began during slavery as a time when slaves could dress up in cast-off finery and dance the night away. It eventually became a competition between couples to see who would win the prize: a cake.

Custom called for yards to be swept clean, and chairs and benches put out for spectators.

There would have been banjo players or fiddle players, and the women would have worn hoop skirts, while the men would have donned top hats and split-tailed coats. The couple who won had bragging rights until the next dance.

"The Cullman Classic Cakewalk" will begin at 10 a.m. on the front steps on the Cullman County Museum and run until approximately 11:30 a.m.

“It's something I've wanted to start in Cullman just to add some fun and celebrate Cullman sweet treats,” said South. “When the Cullman County Museum asked me to lead one of the April walking tours, it just provided me an opportunity.”

South’s idea was to have seven "cake breaks" to speak to the crowd about the seven things that he believes make Cullman folks distinctive: Tradition, Family, Heritage, Hospitality, Nature, Passion and Pleasure. “I definitely wanted the Cullman classics: All-Steak orange rolls, Duchess Bakery donuts, Carlton's cannolis, Cullman strawberries, then, Salon Luxe, a popular place for ladies to get their hair done and manicures, I also wanted to sponsor Ladyfingers, and we start things off with Gerdi Voltz creating a classic German cake, a Donwalle.”

Here’s the list of all the stops and the treats walkers will enjoy at each one:

  1. Cullman Museum: traditional German Cake by Gerdi Voltz
  2. Sacred Heart Church: Duchess Bakery Donuts
  3. Carlton's: Cannolis
  4. All-Steak: Orange Rolls
  5. Southern Accents: Cullman Strawberry Cupcakes by Melissa Ash
  6. The Cullman Tribune: Ladyfingers by Salon Luxe
  7. Karma's Apple Crumb Cake Muffins

It will be interesting to see Ben South’s interpretation of this old tradition. And remember his motto for this walk: “We brake for Cullman cake!”

For more information, contact the Cullman County Museum.

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