STUTTGART — Archaeologists say rice has been in cultivation at least 10,000 years, which is more than enough time for the grain to be used in at least as many recipes around the world.

STUTTGART — Archaeologists say rice has been in cultivation at least 10,000 years, which is more than enough time for the grain to be used in at least as many recipes around the world.

The versatility of rice as an ingredient will be demonstrated Friday at the 2012 Arkansas Rice Expo.

“Rice is so much more than a side dish,” said Leigh Ann Bullington, co-chair of the Rice Expo 2012 Rice Contest. “We want to show off not only the many ways rice can be used, but also the creativity Arkansans use in putting rice to work in every meal from breakfast right through to dessert.”

Extension family and consumer science agents for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture will be offering samples of dishes showing off this ancient food, including baked rice Florentine, lemon rice dessert, rice trail mix, ham-n-cheese rice rolls, caramelized onion, smoked gouda, and pecan rice tart.

Rice’s adaptability will also be on display in the Rice Recipe contest being held during the expo. The judges for the inaugural event are Kelly Brant, food editor with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Janice Marsh, vice chair of the Arkansas Farm Bureau Women’s Committee; and Donna Hoskyn, retired Arkansas County extension staff chair.

This 2012 Arkansas Rice Expo is being held in the 63,000-square-foot Grand Prairie Center at 2709 Highway 165 South in Stuttgart. Admission is free.

For more information about the Arkansas Rice Expo, visit www.uaex.edu and click on the Rice Expo logo, or call the Rice Research and Extension Center at 870-673-2661.

The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.