UA Little Rock holds most popular Taste of Little Rock to date
May 15-21, 2023
By Angelita Faller
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock held its most popular Taste of Little Rock event, presented by PepsiCo, in history, while simultaneously breaking its goal of raising more than half a million dollars during the university’s annual Giving Day.
In spite of a three-week delay, the April 25 event sold out for the first time in history, selling more than 1,060 tickets and drawing a record crowd. Additionally, the event raised more than $145,000 for student scholarships, the most in Taste of Little Rock history.
The event is also a celebration of the university’s annual Giving Day. The university broke its goal of raising half a million dollars during this year’s Giving Day, including securing a gift from every county in Arkansas and every state in the nation.
“This year’s event was a huge success, thanks to our dedicated board members and co-chairs, Loris Fullerton and Stephanie Caruthers, as well as the entire UA Little Rock alumni and development staff,” said Heide Harrell, president of the UA Little Rock Alumni Board of Directors. “It was wonderful to have so many community leaders and university supporters come together to raise money for the Alumni Association Scholarship Fund and honor the infamous James Bobo.”
The event honored James Bobo as the night’s honoree. Bobo, who retired from Entergy in 2017, has a passion for his alma mater and has given back to support higher education in Arkansas. He served two terms on the Alumni Board of Directors and as a past president. He now serves on the Centennial Campaign Cabinet, helping to lead the university’s largest fundraising effort to raise $250 million by UA Little Rock’s centennial anniversary in 2027.
“It is awesome, wonderful, and breathtaking to see so many people come out for food, fun, fellowship, and a great time,” Bobo said. “I truly appreciate everyone who has come out to support the university and our students. What excites me the most is the money we are raising for scholarships for our students. That is what is near and dear to my heart, helping others, and especially our wonderful students who are working so hard to earn their college degrees.”
Taste of Little Rock, originally scheduled for April 4, was delayed three weeks due to the destructive EF3 tornado that hit Central Arkansas on March 31 and impacted so many people in the community. In light of this, the UA Little Rock community was more determined to support students in need than ever before.
“After we had to postpone because of the devastating tornado, it is a true blessing to be able to raise money for our student scholarships,” said Loris Fullerton, co-chair of the Taste of Little Rock Committee. “Our sponsors have been wonderful. We have a great crowd, and we are thrilled with tonight’s event. We are incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support and generosity from our community.”
Taste of Little Rock, UA Little Rock’s highly anticipated culinary and social event, raises funds for the UA Little Rock Alumni Scholarship Fund, which provides thousands of scholarship dollars every year to deserving UA Little Rock students. And Giving Day raises funds to support the Centennial Campaign pillars, which include scholarships, program excellence, student support, and the living and learning environments.
“Raising money for student scholarships is what this event is all about,” said Alfred Williams, co-chair of the UA Little Rock Centennial Campaign Committee. “The whole Centennial Campaign is all about providing the best education and future possible for our students.”
Taste of Little Rock is an incredible gathering that showcases the diverse and delectable cuisine of the city’s most talented and innovative restaurant owners. This event provides an opportunity for the community to come together and savor the best flavors Little Rock has to offer while supporting an important cause.
The culinary extravaganza featured a wide variety of restaurants and caterers with selections to fill every palate. They included Afrobites, Andy’s, Blue Cloud, Blue Coast Burrito, Burge’s, Cantina Laredo, Chuy’s, Chicken Salad Chick, Community Bakery, Delicious Temptations, Fazoli’s, Kemuri, Happy’s Energy and Nutrition, Kreative Expressionz Catering, Kris and Sam’s, Le Pops, Loblolly Ice Cream, Lost Forty Brewing, Mockingbird Bar and Tacos, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Rivera Italian Restaurant, Sauced Bar and Oven, SAP’s Creole Cuisine, Southern Glazer’s, Red Moon Tavern, Smackey’s, Taj Mahal, Whole Hog, Wright’s BBQ, and Zin Wine Bar.
“I think this event and the food variety is amazing,” said Taste of Little Rock attendee Carson Vogelpohl. “I am excited to try all the different kinds of delicious food. It’s really fabulous how many choices are available. You can see Little Rock with a fork.”
Taste of Little Rock would not have been a success without the event’s dedicated sponsors. Gold Sponsors include Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Entergy, and Natural State Private Wealth Group. The night’s silver sponsors include Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, Garver, HoganTaylor, Loris and Jay Fullerton, Simmons Bank, Glazer’s Beer and Beverage, Stephanie and Brooks Caruthers, and USAble Life.
Rebecca Weaver, a senior human resources business partner with Southern Glazer’s, said her company has been an avid supporter of Taste of Little Rock for more years than she could remember.
“We’ve supported UA Little Rock for a long time,” Weaver said. “We love to see how our donations go to support student scholarships and help grow a great workforce for Arkansas. We hope UA Little Rock’s students will gain a great education and come work for us in the future.”
This year’s Taste of Little Rock event was held in the Derek Fisher Court in the Jack Stephens Center due to the repair of the Joe Foley Court. Repairs were scheduled to begin April 5, the day after the original Taste of Little Rock date. Taste of Little Rock will be back in action on the Joe Foley Court next year!
Every gift made to the university through December 2026 will be a part of the Centennial Campaign, the university’s largest fundraising campaign in history. The priorities of the campaign are scholarships, program excellence, student support and the living and learning environments.
To learn more or give, visit https://ualr.edu/giving/product/centennial-campaign/.
1. 2023 Taste of Little Rock Honoree James Bobo, middle, catches up with UA Little Rock Centennial Campaign Co-chairs Jerry Damerow and Alfred Williams during Taste of Little Rock. (Photo by Ben Krain)
2. UA Little Rock graduates Abigail Resendiz, left, her boyfriend, and Anna Kharlamova, right, catch up during Taste of Little Rock on April 25. (Photo by Ben Krain)
3. MHP/Team SI employees Mary Claire Imbro, public relations director, and Shakayla Zoss, public relations account executive, enjoy the lively atmosphere at Taste of Little Rock in the Jack Stephens Center. (Photo by Ben Krain)