The pie-eating contest is a festival favorite. Courtesy of Arkansas Pie Festival
Category: Uniquely Arkansas

Arkansas Pie Festival’s popularity continues to rise

The Arkansas Pie Festival increases in size and activities each year. This year’s festival is April 27 in Cherokee Village. Courtesy of Arkansas Pie Festival

The Arkansas Pie Festival celebrates the perennial great on our dessert plate with a celebration of flavors, festivities and fun at Cherokee Village Town Center in Cherokee Village the last Saturday in April each year. This growing enterprise may have started small, but it keeps increasing in size, with more activities each year.

Festival co-founder Jonathan Rhodes says the event has quickly become one of The Natural State’s favorite new happenings.

“When we launched the festival in 2019, our expectation and hope was that Arkansans who love pie as much as we do would show up to celebrate pie. Our festival committee works throughout the year planning and building a grassroots following across the state. We are excited to continue growing the festival to become one of the premier food-themed events in Arkansas.”

Community Bakery of Little Rock won the professional category in 2023 with their Key Lime Pie. Courtesy of Arkansas Pie Festival

The event has grown from about 500 attendees that year to 1,000 in 2022, and well over 2,000 in 2023. With additions and more competitors each year, the Arkansas Pie Festival continues to expand.

Last year’s Prettiest Pie Winner was a Gluten-Free Strawberry Lime Pie by Teresa Cardin of Pyatt. Courtesy of Arkansas Pie Festival

The heart of the festival is tasting. Attendees visit stations across the Town Center grounds, enjoying different types of pie — ranging from classic apple to gluten-free buttermilk to creamy peanut butter. This year, festivalgoers will receive a Pie Passport, which will take them to each table for a bite of delight.

For serious piemakers, the festival offers something more — a big competition and a chance to vie for not only the title of Best Pie but to advance to a much larger venue. Event judge coordinator Shawn Johnson says that tie-in brings in competitors from far and wide.

“The World Food Championship (WFC) honors all categories of food excellence — from burgers and steak to desserts,” Johnson says. “This year, the winner of the Arkansas Pie Festival will receive a coveted golden ticket (valued at $2,500) to travel to Dallas to compete at the WFC in November. Both events celebrate the history and enjoyment of pie and the rich culture that comes with it. We are proud of the WFC’s recognition of the Arkansas Pie Festival as a qualifying event.”

The WFC welcomes over 350 teams from across the globe to find the best culinary talent each year, with competitions in 12 categories and a grand prize of $100,000.

The Arkansas Pie Festival recognizes winners in a variety of categories. Courtesy of Arkansas Pie Festival

It doesn’t matter whether piemakers are competing as professionals, amateurs or students; the overall winner gets to go! There are first, second and third places for each of those three categories, as well as the Prettiest Pie Award. Special awards are given for outstanding pies by this year’s three pie expert judges: food influencer Steve Shuler; longtime Arkansas Democrat-Gazette restaurant writer Eric Harrison; and Arkansas food historian and author of “The Great Arkansas Pie Book,” Kat Robinson (disclosure — that’s me!).

Hannah Davis of Fayetteville was last year’s Best Overall – Golden Ticket Winner with her Bee’s Knees Pie. Courtesy of Arkansas Pie Festival

A pie-eating contest will be held for adults and kids alike to see who can consume a blueberry pie the quickest without using their hands! There’s a pie auction, where the winning bidder takes home a pie. The Cutie Pie Pet Parade is for pup pals to show off their stuff with their owners. And to start it all off and get attendees’ appetites growing, there’s the Pie Day 5K, a run through the hills around Cherokee Village.

Food trucks serving all manner of cuisine will be in operation, and music will be performed on the main stage throughout the day. An Arkansas Pie Pop-up shop, selling pies to go, ensures enthusiasts can enjoy their fill even after the festival ends.

The Arkansas Pie Festival is April 27 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Cherokee Village Town Center in Cherokee Village. For more information, visit