Do you like cheese, mixed with other tasty items, and melted into gooey deliciousness best served in a bowl with a side of warm tortilla chips?
If so, you’ll probably be happy to know that some folks are planning a local festival called the NWA Cheese Dip Classic set for Saturday, Sept. 10 at the Arkansas Music Pavilion.
The group who organized last year’s World Cheese Dip Championship in North Little Rock is putting together the event.
The local version of the event will be a regional championship for the Little Rock competition.
“It’s a judged competition,” said event organizer John McClure. “We’ll have professional judges, amateur judges, and the crowd will also get a chance to judge their favorite cheese dip. The winners will win a trip to Little Rock to participate in the world championship.”
McClure, who also had a hand in planning last year’s Harvest Food Festival on the Fayetteville square, said that the event in North Little Rock last year was so popular that they’re already looking to expand.
“When we did the first one, we had 31 competitors and over 6,000 people showed up,” he said. “We asked each vendor to do 5 gallons of cheese dip. An hour and 45 minutes into the festival, we were almost out.
“You never know what you’re going to get when you start something like this, but people really took it seriously.”
Cheese Dip in the Natural State
So, why hold the World Cheese Dip Championship in Arkansas? According to McClure, the golden-yellow (or white, if you’re fancy) appetizer originated right here in the Natural State.
“My partner and documentary filmmaker Nick Rogers did a 20-minute documentary called In Queso Fever (embedded below) about the history of cheese dip in Arkansas,” McClure said. “As far as we can tell, cheese dip got its start in Arkansas back in the 1930s at a restaurant called Mexico Chiquito.”
Mexico Chiquito still operates seven locations in Central Arkansas, and restaurant executive Dan Jurreau stands by McClure’s claims.
“We created the term cheese dip,” Jurreau told Rogers in the documentary. “It was developed by (restaurant founder) “Blackie” Donnalley’s wife Margerie.”
McClure said he hoped to have dates, times, and a venue finalized for the NWA Cheese Dip Classic in the next few weeks. We’ll keep you posted.
Update: The NWA Cheese Dip Classic is now set, and confirmed for Saturday, Sept. 10 at the Arkansas Music Pavilion.