A foodie must-do this weekend is the International Greek Food Festival, which kicks off Friday, May 17 at 11 a.m. at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 1100 Napa Valley Drive in Little Rock. Admission, parking and trolley service are all free. Visit their website for lots for more information.
Now in its 29th year, the festival runs through 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon. On the menu for this year are all the faves you'd expect: gyros, falafel, hummus, tabbouleh salad, kebabs, spanakopita, loukanika, roast lamb, plus lots more. If you don't feel like standing in line, they also offer a drive-through menu with many of the festival's more popular items.
Attractions this year will include an Old World Market with jewelry, stained glass, wooden toys, art work and ceramics, a book store, a grocery section and a selection of pastries and frozen dinners to go. Entertainment on tap will include Irish, Indian, Greek, Scottish, Russian and Middle Eastern folk dancing, with something different to see every half-hour. The Centers for Youth and Families will also have a kid's area set up, with games, a bounce house, face painting and other things to keep the tykes occupied.
If past years have been any indication, the Greek Food Festival will probably be a mob scene, but they do offer free trolley service from nearby parking lots. It's loads of fun, and the food is well worth it.
Competing cooks will be rolling up their sleeves and oiling up their skillets for the Arkansas Cornbread Festival coming Nov. 3 to SoMa, on Main between 13th and 16th streets. Festival-goers will be able to munch cornbread samples from professional competitors Big Daddy’s Hotwater Cornbread from the Old South Cornbread Co., Whole Foods, the Governor’s Mansion, and Redbone’s (all in the traditional category); the Savory Pantry, Loblolly Creamery, Pizza D’Action, and Dogtown Coffee and Cookery (all non-traditional); and Boulevard Bread, Brown Sugar Bake Shop and Dempsey Bakery (sweet cornbread), as well as amateur competitors. Food trucks will serve up main courses and more, craft vendors will line Main and there will be music to eat by from (in order of appearance) the Mockingbird Hillbilly Band, Rodney Block and the Real Music Lovers, the Buffalo City Ramblers, Tsar Bomba, Don’t Stop Please and Tyrannosaurus Chicken. Tickets are $7 adults and $3 for children. It’s the 2nd annual festival and a lot of the action will be at the Bernice Sculpture Garden, Daisy Bates and Main.
After you’ve downed liquid cheese by the bucketful, consider heading over to Chili Fights in the Heights, a chili cook-off that benefits the Arkansas Foodbank. Kavanaugh will be blocked off from N. Taylor to N. Polk streets. The entry deadline for chili cooking teams is today, Oct. 17; the fee is $50. Cooking begins at 1 p.m.; tasting kits will be up for purchase for $4 beginning at 5 p.m. Beer, wine and soda will be available for purchase. Big Silver will perform beginning at 4:30 p.m.
The third annual World Cheese Dip Championship, named by Gourmet.com and Roadfood.com as one of the top ten food festivals in the country, returns from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20 at the Clinton Presidential Center. The festival is the brainchild of local attorney and filmmaker Nick Rogers, who conceived it after making a short documentary on cheese dip that argues that Arkansan Blackie Donnelly, owner of Mexico Chiquito, was the first person to dream up cheese dip. Contestants in both the "amateur" and "professional" classes can register online at cheesedip.net. There'll be cash prizes for the winners, and the winner in the pro division will go on to compete in the New Orleans Roadfood Festival. Entry fee is $100 for amateur teams and $125 for professionals. Proceeds benefit Harmony Health Clinic in Pulaski County. Tickets for those who just want to sample are $10 in advance (available at USA Drug) or if you’re wearing a Race for the Cure T-shirt or $12 at the door.
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