Let’s see how last weekend’s event turned out!
I’ve been to A LOT of festivals in my life. If I had to be honest…most suck. Either they’re too expensive, too crowded, the weather doesn’t cooperate, or worst yet…the food product being celebrated is hardly represented (see Texas Strawberry Fest).
I found absolutely none of those things to be true with the Arkansas Cornbread Festival. In its second year of existence (first year of my attendance), this festival seemed to hum along like the folks have been doing it for years. Last Saturday’s gorgeous weather certainly didn’t hurt things–add to that a perfect SOMA location, numerous eclectic vendors, and stiff competition between prospective cornbread connoisseurs.
I attended the event as both a volunteer and judge. What can I say, cornbread tends to bring out the best in me. So, after an hour of manning the beer stand, I eagerly headed over to the judge’s table and prepared myself for the onslaught of cornbread samples. In fairness, nothing can truly prepare you for 20 samples of cornbread. It seems the fringe benefits of food blogging can at times be overwhelming.
Competition categories were broken out into professional and amateur (sweet, traditional, and non-traditional) and sides. I thought three cornbread entries really stood out, including: a perfectly fried hot water cornbread (Big Daddy’s), a griddle cake (not sure), and a thick hunk with hints of pumpkin and bits of crawfish (Fresh Ideas). Regarding “sides,” several collard green entries were magnificent, but the truly special one was this gumbo-like concoction with soft veggies and diced sausage.
All the judging was blind, and unfortunately, I could only do a quick walk-thru of all the booths after I was finished with my duties. So, I can’t match all the names with what I tasted. To be honest, I was somewhat delirious after all that eating and just wanted to go home and put my head down. Feel free to comment on some of the cornbread that stood out for you…and please help me out by including the name, if possible.
Here are the results:
Best Pro Traditional – Fresh Ideas at Philander Smith
Best Pro Non-Traditional – Loblolly Creamery
Best Pro Sweet – Brown Sugar Bake Shop
Best Pro Overall – Fresh Ideas
Best Side Item – The Root
Best Amateur Sweet (no entries, no winner)
Best Amateur Non Traditional – William Fisher
Best Amateur Traditional – Terry Wright
Best Amateur Overall – William Fisher
Best In Show – Fresh Ideas at Philander Smith
A special thank you to coordinators for their wonderful hospitality. I’m already looking forward to next year!