6th Annual Dutch Oven State Championship
If you’re hip to the fact that a) Arkansas has an official State Historic Cooking Vessel and that b) it is the Dutch oven, then you probably also know that the Dutch Oven State Championship is fast approaching and you can stop reading. Still with us? Good, because this is going to be tasty, with a side of the warm and fuzzies for the good cause behind the event.
The annual cook-off takes place this year over the weekend of June 2-4, with the main competition happening on Saturday, June 3. While previous cook-offs have been held at Petit Jean State Park, this year the whole thing will be held down the hill at the Conway County Fairgrounds in Morrilton. The cook-off is a qualifier for the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championship Cook-Off taking place in Salt Lake City, Utah, in September and is the only IDOS-sanctioned cook-off in Arkansas. Cooks compete in three possible categories: professional 3-pot, which requires a main dish, bread and dessert; 1-pot amateur, which is chef’s choice; and the youth category, which is for dessert cooks under the age of 18. Awards for the latter two categories are people’s choice; the 3-pot category follows sanctioned rules, in which judges evaluate finished dishes against their printed recipes to determine how well they’ve been executed.
If it sounds like serious business, that’s because it is. “Anything you can order at a five-star restaurant can be cooked in a Dutch oven,” says Ray Pruitt, who heads up the Arkansas Dutch Oven Cooks, our state’s official chapter of the IDOS. “Next year we might even have a carrot cake showdown.” Pruitt says that this event often results in Arkansas placing several cooks among the top 10 nationally. Prospective competitors should bring their own ovens and cook tables.
You don’t have to cook to hang out and have a good time. Friday night there will be music and food for cooks and volunteers; Saturday is a day of competition followed by a nighttime meal and more music; and Sunday begins with breakfast followed by cowboy church and gospel singing by the Messengers for Jesus out of Delhi, Louisiana. Cooks and spectators alike are invited to camp; 30 and 50 amp hookups are available. Meals for non-participants are available through donations to the group’s charity, Cookin for Kids, which raises money for school supplies and scholarships for Conway County students. For more information about the event, contact Ray Pruitt at 501-242-2763.