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Arkansas cultivates nearly 2 million acres in rice and exports a billion dollars’ worth of rice to other countries each year with Stuttgart’s blood, sweat and tears at the center of it all. Add to that the nearly 2 million ducks descending upon Stuttgart and the surrounding wetlands each year, and you have the makings of a great partnership. And, a great festival.
Here are the Top 7 Things The Park Wife is looking forward to at her very first rice and duck centered extravaganza known as the World Championship Duck Calling Contest and Wings Over the Prairie Festival:
Known as the Annie Oakley of the modern day culinary world, Georgia is a true pioneer woman. She hunts, gathers and seeks out ingredients that “are anchored to the seasons and a definite place.” And, she loves Arkansas and spends a lot of time here. I have been a fan for many years; I actively follow her on social media, own her books, and am saving my nickels to attend one of her Girl Hunter Adventure Weekends. Now, thanks to our Arkansas rice connections, I finally get to meet her and channel my inner modern day pioneer spirit!
If you do not know who Georgia Pellegrini is, you will love her. She is a TV personality, chef, author and outdoor adventurer. Georgia will be in the Riceland Wildlife Pavilion Saturday, Nov. 29, at 11:00, 1:00 and 3:00 for cooking demos, DIY projects and book signing. She will teach you how to make delicious duck recipes, demonstrate interesting ways to use Riceland Rice, such as making custom flavored rice mixes, decorating ideas, and how to make homemade rice milk, and sign copies of her books for you to enjoy yourself or give as a gift. Follow me over to Riceland’s Tasting Camp for samples of her featured recipes because I will be there trying them all. I hear there will be pumpkin rice pudding, sweet mercy!
If cooking and DIY Projects is not your cup of duck gumbo, head over and meet Arkansas native Scott Rook, Bass Master Elite series winner and nine-time Bass Master Classic qualifier. Scott will be in the Riceland Wildlife Pavilion Friday, Nov. 28 from 9:00 – 1:30. You can see his bass boat and truck used for national tournaments (yes moms and dads, the kids can get in it for pictures), and sample catfish cooked in Riceland’s Fish Fry Oil.
Scott will conduct the Reel Kids Casting Clinic beginning at 11:00 a.m. Kids can learn how to use a rod and reel, and then try to hit special targets while casting.
Riceland’s Children’s Duck Calling Classes will teach the basics of duck calling to children between the ages of 4 and 8 years old. Classes begin at 10:00a.m. Friday, Nov. 28, in front of the Main Stage. Children must bring their own duck call.
The classes will be conducted by former World Champion Duck Caller Pat Peacock, and her sisters Dixie Holt and Brenda Cahill. The three women are the daughters of legendary duck call maker Chick Major, who was famous for the Dixie Mallard Duck Call.
I hear many of the children go on to become serious about duck calling and enroll in the Youth Duck Calling Clinic featuring Butch Richenback. That clinic is open to older children and includes several sessions. Richenback is the maker of the Rich-N-Tone Duck Call. I foresee a lot of noise in my house after this.
The Carnival and Midway sponsored by Scott manufacturing is operated by one of Arkansas’s best known carnival companies, Miller’s Spectacular Shows, of Greenbrier, Ark. Arkansas is truly representing at the festival. There will be rides for big, brave kids (that would not be me) like the Screamer, the Ring-Of-Fire, the Rainbow and Pharaoh’s Fury and some for little kids and toddlers (more my style). Don’t miss the delicious carnival food like cotton candy, funnel cakes, candy apples, and I would bet there will be many things deep-fried on a stick.
I have confirmed, there will be bumper cars. Our boys are excited. O.K., I am too.
The annual Bud Light Duck Gumbo Cook-Off has become a Thanksgiving tradition for many people. Every year, thousands of people make plans to attend the cook-off and watch more than 50 teams compete for bragging rights to the “World’s Best Duck Gumbo.”
Each team is required to cook 3 quarts of gumbo and 50% of the meat used in the recipe must be duck. Teams start cooking at 10 in the morning and final judging takes place at 3 in the afternoon.
Prizes are awarded for first, second and third place. But even if a team’s gumbo doesn’t win the taste test, each team has a shot at winning the award for Best Booth. I hear the teams assemble elaborate booths most with a theme and some teams have been known to work all year designing an eye-catching booth.
There are plenty of events for sportsmen and athletes who seek other endeavors in the wide world of sports besides hunting. On Saturday morning, Nov. 29, there will be a 10K and a 5K, go here to learn more. If you know anything about the Arkansas Delta, it is FLAT, that’s right, no hills around that last corner before the finish line that make you want to sit on the curb and rest (not that I have ever done that, well, there was that one time, but that hill was BIG). This might be a race I could run….if something was chasing me or there was duck gumbo at the finish line. But seriously, this will be an amazing race, all runners need go sign up!
And, last but not least,
The World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest is the longest running calling contest in history. First prize in 1947 was $1,000 cash. Today, the prize package is worth more than $15,000.
In order to compete, a caller must win a preliminary calling contest that is sanctioned by the Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce and held in one of 38 states. A preliminary contest is also held in Canada for Canadian residents.
The Junior World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest begins at 9 a.m., followed by the Senior World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest at 10 a.m. and the Women’s World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest at 11 a.m. The Main Street Stage is the site for the 78th annual World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest at 2 p.m.
After you’ve devoured the turkey and pumpkin pie, why don’t you start a new family tradition and meet me in Stuttgart at the National Duck Calling Championship. No long beard or camo required.
Photos courtesy of Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce.
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