The Third Annual World Cheese Dip Championship is in the books, and it was the strongest version of the event yet. Held this year on the grounds of the Clinton Presidential Library, the third iteration of the melted cheese celebration had enough room to move around — and some extra space for a DJ, some bouncy castles, and food vendors like Hot Dog Mike and Philly's to Go. There was a strong lineup of contenders for chip-dipping glory, and I have to say that I didn't try a single dip that wasn't at least decent. Staff, volunteers, vendors, and contestants were all very friendly and enthused to be there, and the festive atmosphere was helped along nicely by the beer tent, frozen margaritas, and Rock Town Distillery's Apple Pie Lightning, a smooth-drinking, deceptively strong apple liquor that I highly recommend.
I've got plenty of pictures to post, but first, the winners:
Big Dipper (Grand Prize): ConcheeZtadors (Amateur), Dizzy's (Professional)
The ConcheeZtadors team has become a staple of the local cheese dip scene, and their Mexican wrestling-inspired booth also won for best booth design. Their dip was a flavorful, mild dip that was quite enjoyable. Dizzy's Gypsy Bistro is no stranger to the winner's circle, winning the first cheese dip championship in 2010 with their creamy dip topped with fresh pico de gallo.
Little Dipper (Second Prize): UAMS (Amateur), US Pizza (Professional)
The UAMS group went with a classic cumin-based dip reminiscent of Mexico Chiquito's original recipe. US Pizza's dip was a creamy white cheese dip that really knows how to coat a chip.
People's Champion: Mitchell-Williams (Amateur), Dizzy's (Professional)
Mitchell-Williams is one of my favorite groups, because they hold an office-wide contest every year to choose their entry dip. This year's winner was a Ro-tel and cheese mixture with some spicy sausage added to make one of the heartiest dips in the contest.
For more pictures, join me after the jump.
The hottest dip at the festival came from Dunbar Community Gardens, which used their green thumbs to produce the jalapenos, serranos, cayenne peppers, habaneros, ghost peppers, and Trinidad scorpion peppers that made this dip a painful (but tasty) experience.
This is the Big Dipper trophy won last year by Dog Town Coffee. While Dog Town didn't place this year, their dip was one of our favorites.
The big winner this year was this dip from Dizzy's Gypsy Bistro, a creamy dip topped with fresh pico de gallo. This has been my favorite dip at the festival for three years running.
One of the fresh tactics used this year was some campaigning by members of the ConcheeZtadors team, who said they got the idea from attending a music festival this summer.
Last but not least, Rock Town Distillery's booth was a highlight of the event, and their Apple Pie Lightning was the essence of fall in a bottle. Sold mixed or by the shot, it was tasty both ways.
I always get to this even early, so I left before the reported chip shortages happened. I was a bit surprised that there were shortages this year given the barrels of fresh-fried chips that the coordinators had, and it's a sign of how popular this festival has become. I think that despite that issue, the cheese dip folks deserve congratulations for holding a fun event, and as I've said for the last two championships: I can't wait until next year.