Finalists have been announced for the 2018 class of the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame, including several in Southeast Arkansas.


The Department of Arkansas Heritage launched the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame in 2016 to recognize Arkansas’ legendary restaurants, proprietors and food-themed events across the state.


Winners will be announced at Ron Robinson Theater at Little Rock Tuesday, March 6, starting with a business casual reception at 5:30 p.m. and the induction ceremony at 6:15 p.m.


Categories and finalists include:


Food-Themed Events: Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival (Bradley County); Gillett Coon Supper (Arkansas County); World Championship Duck Gumbo Cook Off (Arkansas County); Hope Watermelon Festival (Hempstead County); International Greek Food Festival (Pulaski County);


Gone But Not Forgotten: Klappenbach Bakery of Fordyce (Dallas County); Jacques and Suzanne of Little Rock (Pulaski County); Coy’s Steak House of Hot Springs (Garland County); Cotham’s Mercantile in Scott (Pulaski County);


Proprietor of the Year: Mary Beth Ringgold of Little Rock (Pulaski County); Capi Peck of Little Rock (Pulaski County); Scott McGehee of Little Rock (Pulaski County); Matt McClure of Bentonville (Benton County);


Arkansas Food Hall of Fame: Franke’s Cafeteria of Little Rock (Pulaski County); Feltner’s Whatta-Burger of Russellville (Pope County); Doe’s Eat Place of Little Rock (Pulaski County); Kream Kastle of Blytheville (Mississippi County); McClard’s Bar-B-Q Restaurant of Hot Springs (Garland County); Bruno’s Little Italy of Little Rock (Pulaski County); White House Café of Camden (Ouachita County); Ed Walker’s Drive-In of Fort Smith (Sebastian County); Neal’s Café of Springdale (Washington County); Dixie Pig of Blytheville (Mississippi County); The Venesian Inn of Tontitown (Washington County); DeVito’s of Eureka Springs (Carroll County).


The People’s Choice Award was chosen solely based on the number of nominations for a particular restaurant, so there are no finalists and the winner will be announced at the induction ceremony.


A total of 450 submissions were received from 40 counties across the state for the second class of the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame. “We’re so pleased to see the public support for this program continue to grow,” said Stacy Hurst, director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. “We look forward to many years of celebrating Arkansas’s unique food traditions.”


The selection committee includes Paul S. Austin, Evette Brady, C.C. (Chip) Culpepper, Cindy Grisham, Stacy Hurst, Montine McNulty, Tim Morton, Rex Nelson, Tim Nutt, Kat Robinson, Christina Shutt, Swannee Bennett and Lisa Speer.


The public is invited to attend the reception and induction ceremony. Tickets are available for purchase, but space is limited. Tickets are $20 and can be reserved by emailing Shelby Brewer at shelby.brewer@arkansas.gov or calling 501-324-9349. Tickets must be reserved by Feb. 26. Payment will be accepted by cash or check at the March 6 event. Details: Arkansas Food Hall of Fame, ArkFoodHOF.com.