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Arkansas Food Hall of Fame accepting nominations

 Nominations for the 2023 Arkansas Food Hall of Fame are being accepted through the end of October.
Department of Arkansas Heritage
Nominations for the 2023 Arkansas Food Hall of Fame are being accepted through the end of October.

Arkansans are being urged to nominate their favorite restaurants to be part of the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame.

The annual honors are given out based on nominations from the public, with finalists set to be announced early next year. The awards feature several categories, including best food-themed event, proprietor of the year, and “Gone But Not Forgotten” for once-popular restaurants that have since closed.

Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, says the program first began seven years ago with a goal to showcase the role food plays in the state’s history and culture.

“We knew that there would be a story to tell about food in Arkansas, and sure enough when we launched the program, we got an enthusiastic reception from the public,” Hurst said. “It’s just really important, I think. It tells an interesting and compelling story about our state.”

Entrants to the hall of fame must be owned and operated in Arkansas, have been in business for 25 years or more, and must not be a national chain restaurant. Hurst says judges will also choose a Food of the Year which they feel embodies the state’s culinary history and culture.

“Last year we selected chicken, and one year we had rice, so it will always be some food item that is an important part of our history and heritage here,” Hurst said. “We invite the public to participate in this, restaurant owners, of course, but consumers and people who put on events. We just want everyone to invest in this program because it’s really great for the state.”

Nominations are being accepted on the Department of Arkansas Heritage website until Oct. 31, with finalists announced in January and winners in February.

Daniel Breen is a Little Rock-based reporter, anchor and producer for KUAR.