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By Submitted, 02/26/19 10:06 AM

What a wonderful night! The Department of Arkansas Heritage Arkansas Food Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was extra-special for many reasons.
The event was staged in the beautiful Central AR Library Systems (CALS) Ron Robinson Theater. Thanks to Ben E. Keith & Company and Moon Distributors, the reception hall was filled with delicious food & drink. Stacy Hurst, Director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage welcomed the group. Attendees represented restaurants from across our great state as well as proprietors and special event managers and directors. Every county was represented on the long list of nominees.
We had the privilege of hearing from Melissa Booth Hall, Managing Director of Southern Foodways Alliance. The crowd applauded throughout her speech, because she stirred sweet memories pertaining to food, family & friends.
Rex Nelson served as Master of Ceremonies, and (of course) he did an outstanding job! The Finalist Categories included:
• Hall of Fame
• Proprietor of the Year
• Food-Themed Event
• Gone but Not Forgotten
• People’s Choice
Hope was well-represented among the nominees! Terry Powell’s Grocery & Station was nominated in the Hall of Fame Category. Tailgaters was a finalist in the People’s Choice Category & the Hope Watermelon Festival was a finalist in the Food-Themed Event Category.
The Hope Watermelon Festival won the Food-Themed Event Category. There were 20 nominees in this category. State Representative Danny Watson, Hempstead County Economic Development Director, Steve Harris & Chamber Director, Beckie Moore accepted the award on behalf of the Hope-Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce. We also celebrated with Burge’s for winning a Hall of Fame Award! For the complete list of winners in each category, visit ArkFoodHOF.com.
Did you know that you can download the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame app for a self-guided tour of the authentic tastes of the state? Scroll through winners & finalists from all across the state and discover the best of Arkansas food near you! The app is available for Android and Apple devices.
Personal Note: When Rex Nelson shouted (he gets a bit excited), “THE WINNER IS THE HOPE WATERMELON FESTIVAL” – I wished that our entire community would have been able to join us in accepting the award. For ALL who have contributed years & years (hours & hours) towards the advancement of the festival & our community, the chamber thanks you!
We are fully aware that the festival is a powerful partnership effort & for that reason, this award belongs to YOU! We cannot thank you enough…Watermelon Growers, Festival Sponsors, Festival Volunteers, Community-Wide Partners, Festival Participants, & Festival Attendees! We are blessed to be able to celebrate a festival that had its beginnings in the mid-1920’s. The festival’s longevity is a testimony of our rich heritage & community spirit that we must never take for granted.