Community developer Johnathan Rhodes has wanted to start the first pie festival in Arkansas in Cherokee Village. This year, that dream will become a reality. The first annual Arkansas Pie Festival will be held April 20, Spring River Innovation Hub Executive Director Graycen Bigger told Talk Business & Politics.
“It’s a new challenge … there’s a lot of moving parts,” said Bigger, who is organizing the festival.
Proceeds from the festival will support STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) programming and education through the community’s Spring River Innovation Hub. The money will be used to buy equipment, books, and help support Hub programs that are tied to STEAM, Bigger added.
The inaugural Arkansas Pie Festival coming this April will savor this much-loved food by hosting a competition between 20 professional pie makers from around the state. Judges and attendees will be able to sample pies of all varieties before crowning a champion baker. Pies from amateur and student bakers will also be on display and auctioned off for charity.
The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub will also be joining in the fun by bringing their new mobile makerspace unit, The STEAM Roller, to the Cherokee Village Town Center. The outfitted trailer includes tools like laser cutters, 3D printers, and CNC routers to provide hands-on learning opportunities for festival goers of all ages.
A full schedule of events and special guests is posted online at ArkansasPieFestival.com. In addition to pie tasting, festival-goers will enjoy live entertainment, food trucks, pie eating and throwing contests, shopping at the Arkansas Pie Pop-up Shop and the opportunity to meet Miss Arkansas 2018 Claudia Raffo.
The goal is to attract at least 500 festival goers, Bigger said. One person who has been contributing a lot to organizing the festival is author and noted Arkansas food critic and travel writer Kat Robinson, Bigger said.
Commercial bakers, home chefs and youth bakers can now register for the event online. Tickets are now available for purchase online at arkansaspiefestival.com and will soon be available for purchase at select local area businesses.
Built in the fall of 2017, the Spring River Innovation Hub is located in the Cherokee Village Town Center, and is modeled after the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub in North Little Rock. Its purpose is to expand economic growth and opportunities in the area, Bigger said.
Creative placemaking allows communities to renovate old, unused buildings; it helps to create construction, local business and other jobs; it also brings business professionals and artisans into a similar space which can be mutually lucrative, Bigger said. It also raises cultural awareness and improves a community’s livability, a significant factor for industries seeking to locate elsewhere, she said.