Since its inception in 2011, the Arkansas Cornbread Festival has exploded in popularity, far exceeding the modest expectations of founder and South Main Street advocate Anita Davis, who hoped to “bring people in our community together for good food, music and conversation.”

Originally hoping for “800 to 1,000 people, we were absolutely thrilled that thousands of people from all over the city and state came to see what makes South Main Street thrive,” Davis says.

Some might ask, “Why cornbread, and why South Main?”

Davis has easy explanations.

“Cornbread is an integral part of our southern heritage, and we live in a community steeped in history and tradition. It just seems to be a good fit for a festival in Little Rock.”

As for the South Main (SoMa) location, “one of the reasons the festival is important is to bring people to our area who have not seen the changes in our part of the city.”

Once people see what’s happening, they want to come back – the changes are happening almost daily at this point. Instead of the somewhat blighted, definitely ignored area of a few years back, SoMa is now hopping, something many people in the city didn’t realize until attending the inaugural Cornbread Festival, which drew 1,600 paying customers (and many more who slipped in unpaid).

The 2012 festival of over 3,000 festival goers has grown! The 2018 incarnation had an even larger turnout, more than 5,000, along with bigger prizes for competitors, covering more blocks that had lots of family activities, lots of artists and makers, SoMa businesses open, and of course lots of cornbread to taste with better crowd flow. The little festival that could is free but to fully enjoy the whole festival buy a tasting ticket to sample all of the entries inthe cornbread competition (your vote determines who wins cash prizes)!

After a long hiatus starting in 2020, this year the festival is a return to the fun atmosphere of previous years. The festival runs down-the-middle of South Main Street from 14th to 16th St – and with full wheelchair accessibility. We can’t wait.

Arkansas Cornbread Festival and Plastic-Free Little Rock launch TOWARD ZERO WASTE campaign

The 2020 Arkansas Cornbread Festival, one of the Natural State’s favorite fall festivals, builds on its Toward Zero Waste campaign. This 2nd year of the campaign will be greener than ever before. You’ll notice a preference for paper over plastic, refillable water bottle stations, and a refreshing absence of styrofoam at this year’s Arkansas Cornbread Festival.

Plastic-Free Little Rock and Arkansas Cornbread Festival have cooked up a five-year plan to become the standard for a low-waste, plastic-free event.

With a clear focus on eliminating specific trash items and single-use plastics from the festival footprint each year, we will show our community that sustainability goals are completely achievable and can become a city-wide—and eventually state-wide—standard. A graphic of our 5-year plan for the festival to move Toward Zero Waste is below.

We know the task seems daunting, but our plan was developed by researching adopted measures in similarly sized cities and festivals. We will support our vendors and food trucks with resources and information through the transition, and will educate festival-goers both before and during the event to ensure our mutual success. We want this to be an opportunity for practice and education for all to take to their homes or businesses and continue them – what it means and how it can fit into their lifestyle.

Moving Towards Zero Waste will require everyone’s attention and dedication.

SAVE THE DATE: Bring your refillable water bottle, join in all the fun with interesting vendors, music and kid’s activities. And of course get your fill tasting cornbread, along South Main between 14th-16th Streets—Little Rock’s SoMa district—from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. November 4th, 2023! The event is free, however to taste all the cornbread tasting tickets may be purchased beginning in August on our website.

Photo Gallery

2016 Cornbread Festival

2015 Cornbread Festival

2014 Cornbread Festival

2013 Cornbread Festival

2012 Cornbread Festival