About The Squirrel Cook Off in Bentonville, Arkansas

Don’t forget that this year will mark the 8th annual Squirrel Cook Off, Sept. 26th, 2020 in Bentonville, Arkansas. Our hats off to Joe Wilson who’s organizing this year’s event with some very special guests attending! Once again you’ll find them setting-up at the Benton County Quail Barn, so don’t forget to bring your friends and family. The best World Champion Squirrel Cook Off for 2020 is here!

photos from the cookoff

Joe’s also has a serious sense of humor when it comes to Russian Hackers taking over his old site. We assure you that Squirrel Cook Off BBQ is keeping-up with the latest events and competitions all over the USA! If it’s grilled, barbecued, or given the Dutch oven treatment, you’ll read about it here first! And don’t forget that we’re proud BBQ enthusiasts, so we also dive right into the exotic and organic meat alternatives.

Anything that gives BBQ that award-winning flavor, we want you to know about it too! So here’s a preview of what you can expect from this year’s Squirrel Cook Off in Bentonville Arkansas.

What’s it all about?

You might already know that Joe has said many times over Squirrel, It’s what’s for supper! Well, those cute little tree-dwelling critters that most of the country looks as being a Disney thing- aren’t so innocent. According to national statistics, Squirrels cause millions of dollars of damage to homes, electrical wires, and even trees! They’re a nightmare for linemen to remove from our power lines, usually after getting fried…

Just like any rodent, their teeth continually grow, so they must chew on things constantly! This includes electric wires in your attic and outdoor property. House fires that were caused by squirrels make up 20% of the entire US average. So it seems Joe Wilson took traditional country-living cuisine to the next level of fighting this costly epidemic! He was the first to create the World Champion Squirrel Cook Off in 2013.

His motto is now is changing the way we look at organic exotic meat that’s a real game-changer. His idea is now spreading all over the country thanks to his awareness.

What makes his cook-off competition different?

You won’t find an attitude about ‘who’s the Best of the Best’ at this one-of-a-kind cook-off since everyone brings their favorite recipes. If you’ve tried squirrel before, you’ll know it can be prepared in so many ways. At this competition, you’ll get points for traditional no matter where you grew-up. If it’s Squirrel gumbo, fried squirrel, or rotisserie squirrel, you’ll be welcome at this World Championship like no other.

That doesn’t mean you can be different since some new entries such as squirrel sushi, squirrel pizza, and even squirrel corndogs are making news. Just enter the competition, bring your recipe, and some nice spring’ squirrels to prepare. Judges will inspect your squirrels before skinning will begin.

Here’s a sample of the Squirrel Cook Off in Bentonville Arkansas official rule guidelines:

• Preparation

Your squirrel must be fresh or freshly frozen until they’re thawed. They’ll need to be skinned and the meat should be prepped. As any other cook-off rules insist, make sure your squirrel is free from buckshot. If you need help there are plenty of helpers who can skin it for you.

• Cooking

There are no specific rules but it must be with a passion to include at least 80% squirrel in your recipe. The rest needs to include 20% worth of a side dish of your choice. If you decide to make samples available to the public, expect there’s going to be more people than you expected. Just save enough for the judging panel!

• Presentation

Standard rules for all food competition apply with a prepared dish inside a Styrofoam clamshell. This includes both the main dish and side dish arranged as you like. These will be supplied to the judging panel, but any samples you give-out are your responsibility.

Prizes that are awarded

While everyone is a winner at this cook-off, the contest has a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place category. The first prize is expected to be over 1000 bucks this year, but Joe has added unique prize giveaways up to the 19th person who’s entered this championship. There are plenty of sponsors at this event, so everyone will walk away with Swag that’s often worth more than the contest winnings!

There will also be raffle tickets available again for those who want to win a brand new Smoker. It’s been a huge draw for those who are serious about BBQ and all the money raised goes directly to good charities and causes. Joes has been an avid promoter for local firemen and policemen charity funds. He’s also been there for (NWA) Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter which gets plenty of charity donations too.

Last year there were nearly 40 contestants who entered, and everyone walked away happy.

The big winners were:

  • Nutty Cheeks Squirrel Squad – 1st Place
  • Big Time Barbecue – 2nd Place
  • Rawhide Nut Pirates – 3rd Place
third place winners
Rawhide Nut Pirates took home 3rd place in the 2019 Squirrel Cookoff Championship

You can see more on them and get the winning recipes here.

Entertainment, Music and more

This year the special headline music guest is Route 358 which brings their original country brand of music to their headliner stage. They’ve been rising in the charts lately and will give everyone a real taste of Arkansas entertainment when September 25th rolls around.

But expect that other great Arkansas talents will be on the big stage all day long. We can only hope that Joe Martinez and Joe Wilson will be on stage again giving back plenty of back-woods humor! They help lighten the mood with a fine Grand Ole Opry Vaudeville routine’ that features music and jokes that poke fun at the history of squirrel-eating folk. As this cook-off draws closer, you’ll find out who’s scheduled to play. You can also check their Facebook page for current news and listings.

With so many people that turned out last year, they’ve added concession food trucks and vendors who’ll be selling BBQ and comfort food. Sorry folks, they won’t be having the squirrel corndog this year even though it was a huge hit a couple of years back. Unless they can figure out a way to make it work! Squirrel is real lean meat that doesn’t work well for corndog batter dipping. Joe would love to hear your ideas if you’ve got a method that works better.

They’ll also have plenty of sideshow meats on the rotisserie that are exotic and free. If you’re curious about trying something new, you’ll get to taste gator, python, or other back-country organic meats. Yet the name of the game at this event is all about cooking squirrel at its’ finest. Whether you want to call it tree bacon, limb chicken, organic tree meat, tree rats, or tofu of the woods, you’ll change your mind at how good it is!

You get to be in the spotlight!

This competition isn’t just some Redneck gathering, it’s national TV coverage that’s getting serious attention. Don’t forget that redneck is another word for our farmers who work under the sun. And these folk are generous as they get when it comes to old fashioned country hospitality. With so much television coverage, you might get to tell your opinion of how good squirrel happens to be. Don’t miss this year’s Squirrel Cook Off in Bentonville, Arkansas!

We’ll be following-up the event to let you know here at Squirrel Cook Off BBQ, who are this year’s winners too. After all, major events like ICSs World Championship Chili Cookoff in 1977 featured Jack Powell, the reigning chili champ from Tennessee. He cooked a chili recipe made from fresh Raccoon that was incredible. Mr. Powell went onto help form Memphis in May’s Superbowl of Swine. You just never know what famous BBQ Pitmaster will be at this eco-friendly event.

You’ll have to check it out for yourself!