The first time I heard about the World Champion Squirrel Cook Off I thought it sounded, well, nuts. Yet last Saturday I found myself standing in the middle of a crowded festival in Bentonville, Arkansas holding a sample of cooked squirrel pot pie.
How did that happen?! And more important, did I go through with trying it? Well, we’ll come back to that… But first, here’s a little info about the event.
This was the third year for the Squirrel Cook Off, which attracts cooks from all over the country ready to try out their best recipes in search of money, gift certificates, and bragging rights. It has also brought in celebrity judges and guests, including the Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern.
I hadn’t planned on attending this year. As mentioned in an earlier write-up, a group of us had come to town to taste our way around the 2nd Annual Bacon Bowl, which was held just down the street. But how could we be within walking distance of this crazy sounding event and not check it out?
So as soon as the Bacon festival was over, we walked over – excited and a little nervous about what we’d find. First impression? It looked a lot like other food festivals except that it was very crowded with lots of booths and lots of people wandering around. Many others were lined up, waiting for samples of all types of dishes, including squirrel ravioli, squirrel sausage, and a pretty tasty looking squirrel lasagna.
We got there towards the end of the event, but in plenty of time to hear the judges’ results. The winners of this year’s cook-off were:
-3rd Place: Green chili squirrel quesadilla
-2nd Place: Squirrel taco with cherry sauce
-1st Place: Squirrel and bacon meatloaf with a squirrel-bacon lollipop
By the way, there was only a 1-point difference between 1st and 2nd place. The competition was fierce!
So, did I try squirrel for myself? Well, I did get a sample…
Oh, and I think my trying the squirrel earned me the right to wear this shirt!