Move over bacon. Rodent meat could be the hottest draw to upcoming food festivals.
Seven states and more than 30 teams were represented at the 2016 World Championship Squirrel Cook-off on northwest Arkansas on Saturday.
Amateur and professional chefs set up dozens of tents on the Bentonville square, as thousands lined up early to dine on various recipes for cooking the fluffy-tailed rodent.
"I really liked it," Chris Garner, of Subiaco, told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette after sampling a squirrel egg roll. "I wish I'd gotten here earlier to try a little more."
Other dishes included squirrel etouffee, squirrel stroganoff, and a fried dessert pie filled with four-berry jam, cream cheese, sausage and minced squirrel that was dipped in a sugar glaze.
— Gavin Lesnick (@glesnick) September 11, 2016
Team Okie Squirrel Busters from Norman, Okla., won first place at the competition. The team took home $1,000 after wowing judges with their fried squirrel ravioli.
Proceeds from this year's cook off went to Sheepdog Impact Assistance and the Wings for Our Troops Foundation, two service organizations based in Rogers serving veterans, military members and police and firefighters. A total for funds raised was not immediately available but it cost teams between $75 to $100 to enter.
Sheepdog officials say they will use the money to provide holiday meals to police and firefighters on duty during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. The Wings Foundation will use the money to help military members return home to see their family before being deployed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.