Friday, May 23, 2014

Eat the Fest.

Presenting... a Nucci's corn dog!
So much to do over the course of Riverfest this year.  Don't waste time hunting down a good bite to eat -- let Kat Robinson's guide point you directly to the food you want to try.

Check back for updates throughout the event -- and follow the Gravagram or @GravWeldon on Twitter for lots of photos!
Grav is having too much fun at Riverfest 2014.

Riverfest is the official kickoff to summer here in Little Rock, as it has been since 1980.  Back then, I was six and the fun was out at Murray Park... and it was free.  Today, it's a wee bit more expensive to go, but oh all those musical acts and fun activities!

Crazy fest fare: deep fried banana
pudding fromRiverside Catering.
Of course, there's not a lot of time to savor the flavors of Riverfest.  Even from its earliest years, it's been about far more than corn dogs and Slushees.

Riverfest is the first place I ever had a proper kebab (and also the first place I ever accidentally immersed myself in nacho cheese sauce, but that's another story) and it's still a great venue for trying some outrageous cuisine.  Here's where you need to go to find all these neat, strange and probably waist-busting vittles. Just remember -- you need River Money for purchases, so hit up a kiosk and buy some bucks first.

The big areas to eat?  The largest section is right behind LaHarpe's Landing, within view of the Riverfest Amphitheater.  There's a smaller section down towards the sculpture plaza. Another food court at the Clinton Presidential Center and a fourth in the family area near Heifer International are all noted in these listings.  You'll find an event map here. 

Scroll down further to learn about Yarnell's Freeze Fest and the food trucks in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Family Free Zone at Heifer -- or click here to learn about the Amstel Light Best Burger in Arkansas Competition.

Bryant's Barbecue and Catering.  A great Arkansas food, barbecue bologna, is sold here.  Get your pig baloney 'cued or not 'cued, along with brats and barbecue nachos.

Bubba's Bacon.  Love bacon?  Bubba has it for you in ways you may never have previously imagined.  Not content with only serving a quarter pound of bacon on a stick, Bubba's is where you'll find chocolate covered bacon on a stick (think Pig Lickers) and bacon flavored popcorn.  Grav says the quarter pound of bacon on a stick is half an inch thick and pretty epic. (LaHarpe)

The Chill Factory.  With highs forecast in the upper 80s, you'll want to cool down with a refreshing drink.  This is where you'll find it -- daiquiries and slushies in a variety of flavors.  A shot of alcohol can be added for an additional price.  Don't forget your ID.  (No alcohol at the Family area booth)

Christi'Ali Cuisine.  Searching for fair-worthy foods?  Find them here.  Alongside steak wraps, chicken strips and pot stickers, you'll find fried Oreos and Butterfinger bars.  Grav even found kabobs cooking on the griddle.
Crazy fries from Christi'Ali's.

Dry Creek Concessions.  Here's the all-American choice, where one will find cheeseburgers, chicken tenders, brats, dogs, and nachos.  Line up here for barbecue nachos (with barbecue pork on top of tortilla chips and cheese), pulled pork sandwiches and Frito chili pies. (LaHarpe)

Flossie's Funnel Cakes.  The perennial favorite, Arkansas-based funnel cake fanciers Flossie's serves up the best, freshest funnel cakes you'll find anywhere.  This is also where you can grab a traditional treat such as cotton candy, corn dogs and fresh squeeze lemonade -- and, to really beat the heat, frozen lemonade as well. (LaHarpe, Sculpture, Clinton, Family)

The Big Taste Grill is so big, Grav could not fit it in frame.
Johnsonville Big Taste Grill.  You won't be able to miss this one -- a 65 foot long giant grill equipped with hot and cold runnign water, electricity, a sound system, prep station and refrigerator.  Up to 12 grillmasters are needed to handle this monstrosity, and it can handle up to 750 brats at a time -- that's 2500 an hour!  You'll find it in front of the Clinton School of Public Service.  Oh, and brat sales go to benefit Riverfest.

Walking Taco from Kathy's Kabana.
Kathy's Kabana.  Arkansas's own Walking Taco queen, Kathy's serves up far more, including quesadillas, taco salads, burritos, nachos and fajitas.  The kids will love chocolate dipped bananas and the Philly cheesesteak is a pretty good call.  (LaHarpe)

Katie's Kickin' Chicken.  How about some chicken on a stick?  Here it is, along with corn dogs and fries.  Get yours stick-ified or in a basket.

Lemonade.  Yes, there are lemonade stands, and they are just about everywhere.  Squeeze your way by and get cooled off. (all areas)

Linda Chan's.  Looking for Asian fare?  Try chicken on a stick or egg rolls here.  You can also get bowls of shrimp fried rice or vegetable lo mein -- both good starchy sources for hitting all the activities. (LaHarpe, Sculpture, Clinton)

Nucci's.  There's nothing like a corn dog, and you'll find corn dogs the star of the show at this vendor's spot.  (LaHarpe)

The Original Corn Roast.  Like corn?  Love this vendor.  Get your hot-and-yellow treat on the cob or in a cup.  Whole pickles also sold here. (LaHarpe)

Ozark Candies and Nuts.  There's nothing quite like hot spiced or sugared nuts, and this North Little Rock enterprise has them down pat.  Choose from cinnamon roasted pecans or almonds, praline pecans and kettle corn. (LaHarpe area)

Papa John's.  Yes, you can get pizza at Riverfest -- straight from national chain pizza joint Papa John's.  Pick up a slice of cheese or pepperoni pizza pipping hot.  (LaHarpe, Bud Stage Area, Clinton)

Patty's Sugar Shack.  Got a sweet tooth?  Satiate it here.. with red velvet cake, caramel and candy apples and cotton candy.  Patty's is also your Riverfest sno-cone hookup.

Riverside Catering.  The prize for strangest anticipated Riverfest food this year goes to this local company, which in addition to serving Cajun favorites such as frog legs, fried shrimp, crawfish and crawfish etoufee, plans to offer alligator, boudin alligator, boudin cheese balls and, I kid you not, deep fried banana pudding.

RJ's Pizza.  The sign says pizza, but what you're really thinking about is a turkey leg.  After all, what's a festival without the hot, smoked leg of a large bird in your hand?  Cookie slices also available, along with -- what else -- pizza.

Santa Lucia.  Get your Greek on with plenty of classic handheld wonders such as gyros, pitas stuffed with chicken or seafood or grilled sausages, and with tasty baklava.  (LaHarpe, Sculpture)

Taste of the Caribbean.  Exactly what it says on the booth -- this vendor wants to share with you traditional favorites from Jamaica and other islands.  Be adventurous and sample curried goat, oxtail stew, or escoveitch fish.  You'll also find jerk chicken and pork, curried shrimp and chicken stew on the menu.

The Tea Box.  My favorite beverage comes from this place.  Cold iced tea, both sweetened and unsweetened, available for your drinking pleasure. (Sculpture)

W&M Concessions.  How about piping hot mozzarella cheese sticks?  Pick up yours along with nachos and corn dogs at this vendor's booth.  (LaHarpe, Sculpture)
A root beer float with Yarnell's ice cream.

Yarnell's Ice Cream.
Look here, look there, Yarnell's is everywhere at Riverfest.  The (should be) official cold dessert of the festival, Yarnell's is out in force with dip stations.  (Sculpture, LaHarpe, Clinton)

Speaking of Yarnell's, the Arkansas ice cream maker's sponsoring FreezeFest -- a series of ice cream eating contests at the KidZone Stage.  Times are 1:10, 4:15 and 7:15 on Saturday and 2:45, 4:45 and 6:45 on Sunday.  Want to sign up?  Click here -- and be prepared for an ice cream headache of epic proportions.

And in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Family Free Zone at Heifer International, you can sample some of our best local food trucks.  Check out:

Southern Gourmasian
David's Burgers
Waffle Wagon

Cheto's Authentic Mexican
Black Hound BBQ
Food Commander
Fat Buoy's

For these vendors, take your real dollars instead of River Money.

There's a lot of food to savor at Riverfest 2014.  For more information, click here -- and be sure to check back for updates.  Also, follow the Gravagram -- Grav Weldon's Instagram and Twitter accounts -- for more great food, activity and concert photography.


Spin the wheel of barbecue at Sweet Baby Ray's near the
Clinton Presidential Center for a chance to take home free
barbecue sauce and seasoning!

Like pig skins?  Pork rinds are the rage and they can be found at this
booth almost underneath the I-30 river bridge.

1 comment:

  1. I'm forwarding this link to my kids who are at Riverfest this weekend!! You make it all look so good!!!


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