The experience of attending a bacon festival can be overwhelming. Typically the primary activities of such an event are 1) eating bacon and 2) consuming alcohol. Without a strategy for pacing yourself throughout the day, things can quickly go awry.
Following are a few tips to follow, should you find yourself in possession of a ticket to a future bacon festival.
1. Stomach Prep. Fasting in advance is not a good strategy. You’ll just be starving by the time you arrive at the festival and will potentially overeat too early in the day. You also don’t want to start drinking booze at 10 am on an empty stomach – nothing good can come of that. The best approach is to eat normal meals the day before – maybe with a few extra vegetables – but don’t feel like you need to avoid bacon, that would just be silly. Arrive at the event with a healthy appetite, and pace yourself throughout the day. You may be forced to pace yourself anyway if you encounter lines, but the lines are an opportunity to commune with fellow members of the Bacon Nation. Alternate food samples with beverages and spread the experience over several hours so you can savor every delicious bite of bacon.
2. Attire. There is no such thing as inappropriate attire at a bacon festival. Pretty much anything goes including pig costumes, snouts, bacon shoes, custom-made bacon suits/dresses…however you like to express your love of bacon, you’ll fit right in. The average person will be wearing at least one pig or bacon related item of clothing – most commonly a t-shirt – but let your bacon flag fly when selecting your outfit. Just be sure to wear something comfortable – particularly shoes – as you’ll be on your feet for most of the day. And elastic waistbands are always a good idea when bacon is involved.
3. Water. It’s easy to get lost in the sea of bacon and booze that’s served up at a bacon festival. But you’ll be more likely to survive the entire day – and maybe even make it to the after parties – if you are properly hydrated.
4. Stay Buzzed, Don’t Get Sloppy. Time flies when you’re at a bacon festival, several hours of eating bacon and drinking cocktails goes by surprisingly fast. Enjoy your beverages, but don’t be a hot mess. It’s likely that the event will be crowded, but attending a bacon festival is all about fellowship, so don’t be the ass hat no one wants to bond with.
“We create a safe environment where people can express their love for bacon.”
-The Iowa Bacon Board
The Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines, Iowa celebrated its 6th year of bacon fellowship on February 9, 2013. This has become the premiere bacon festival in the United States and therefore, the world, ‘cuz no one does bacon like Americans do. ‘MERICA!
The Iowa Bacon Board’s annual event brings people together to celebrate their common love of bacon. When I first attended in 2009, the crowd topped out at 300 and the venue was the High Life Lounge, a small dive bar on the outer edges of the downtown business district. But Americans – and Iowans in particular – love their bacon, and when word gets around that bacon eatin’ is going on, demand quickly exceeds supply.
The 2013 Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival sold out 8,000 tickets in only 3 minutes and took over 2 buildings at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. 5 tons of bacon were served. 30+ vendors presented dishes ranging from Bacon Pad Thai to Bacon Gelato. Alcohol flowed freely for 6 hours straight (and continued at multiple after-parties that went well into the early morning hours).
This year’s Bacon Fest also had an international flair. Partnering with a delegation of Icelandic bacon lovers, the event’s theme was “a journey to the land of fire..and ice…and bacon.” One of the buildings was devoted to all things Iceland including baked cod wrapped in bacon, smoked char and bacon chowder, and fermented shark with a schnapps shooter. There actually wasn’t any bacon involved in that third item which was apparently just some sort of initiation/bonding ceremony. All I know is that it seemed like the festival’s fun factor increased post-shark/schnapps.
So you missed the 2013 Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival but are dying to go in 2014? Then you better be ready to log on at the exact time tickets go on sale and have your credit card information at your fingertips so you don’t miss out. You have 11 months to put together a strategy to make it happen!
Following is a list of all the dishes that were served at the 2013 Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival. The number of dessert items was particularly impressive and a sign of how much our bacon palates have evolved in the past few years. I’m already looking forward to the 2014 festival and hope to see more of my fellow bacon lovers in Des Moines!
APPETIZERS AND FINGER FOODS
Bacon and Cheddar Croissant
Bacon and Cheese Rangoon
Bacon Flavored Potato Chips
Bacon Jalapeno Grillers
Bacon, Onion, Garlic and Cheese Bread
Bacon Sausage on a Stick
Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno
Candied Bacon and Beer Combo
Caribbean Jerk Pork Fatty
Cheese Dip with Bacon
Maytag Blue Cheese Soft Pretzels with a Bacon Beer Cheese Dip
Rainbow Rub Bacon Strips
SANDWICHES, HOT DOGS, WRAPS
Bacon, Blue Cheese and Beef Sandwich
Bacon Taco Explosion
Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog
Carolina Style Bacon n’ BBQ Sandwich
Double Bacon Wrapped Corndog
The Original Bacon Explosion Sandwich
Pineapple and Bacon Quesadilla
Pulled Pork and Bacon BBQ Slider
Templeton Rye Whiskey Elk and Bacon Slider with Bacon Potato Bun
Three Little Pigs
Bacon Breakfast Pizza
The Elvis Pizza
The 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon Pizza
SOUPS AND STARCHES
Asian Braised Pork Rice Bowl
Bacon Macaroni and Cheese
Bacon Pad Thai
Bacon Potato Soup
Chili with Chocolate Dipped Bacon Spoon
Creamy Potato Bacon Soup
Smoked Icelandic Char and Bacon Chowder
Apple Bacon Curry Filled Pastry
Bacon Apple Bread Pudding with Bourbon Caramel
Bacon Booty Cookie
Bacon Brownie Sundae
Bacon Flan Topped with Candied Bacon Strips
Bacon Vodka Pudding Shot
Bourbon Maple Bacon Ice Cream in Waffle Cone
Caramel Bacon Bar
Carmel Bacon Gelato
Carmel Bacon Ice Cream
Chocolate Bacon Bourbon Tart
Fireball Bacon Apple Tart with Ice Hole Raspberry Sauce
Lava Templeton Cupcake
Maple Bacon Cupcake
Peanut Butter, Bacon and Banana Panna Cotta
Pig Candy Cheesecake
Sweet Heat Candied Bacon Cookie
Today I received an email from an elementary school teacher in Queens, New York. One of her 4th grade students submitted a poem about bacon to the school magazine and asked if I would be interested in publishing it on my website. Of course my answer was yes! Here it is:
Bacon by Chester
Bacon is so crispy, so juicy, so sweet
So salty so scrumptious so completely complete
For breakfast, for dinner, for lunch or a snack
Bacon’s the treat that makes my lip smack
And of all the kinds of bacon I like turkey the best!
I tricked you
It was only a jest
Pigs make the best, who could debate
The sound of the sizzle, the smell and the taste?
It is for bacon I’m so happy I’m not Jewish
To live without bacon would make me sad and so blue-ish.
The braised pork belly buns at Nobuo at Teeter House in Downtown Phoenix are something I occasionally have dreams about.
Yesterday, I recorded a short video for a segment on the TV show, The List, to address the issue of whether or not bacon is a dying “trend.” Watch my video response above or view their full segment here!
Following is a note I received from Joel, Chef de Cuisine at Building 24 Kitchen & Bar in Wyomissing, PA:
My Sous and good friend bought me your book for Xmas, because of my Love for bacon. From the very beginning of your book you had me, with OWB (Obsession With Bacon) & Beef Bacon, so it gave me an idea for a dish. First I HAD to try to find and eat Beef Bacon and to my dismay I couldn’t. But my Executive Chef was also intrigued so we made some. What I came up with is the OWB BLT – Applewood Smoked Bacon & Bourbon-Maple Marmalade, thick cut Hickory Smoked Bacon, Applewood Smoked Beef Bacon, Boston Bibb Lettuce, Roma Tomatoes and Bacon Mayo in between toasted Sourdough bread with Pepper Corn Egg Crust on the inside. So I’d like to thank you for the book and inspiration.
Thank YOU, Joel!
Will there be a red carpet (or better yet, a bacon carpet) at the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival this weekend? If so, I’m ready to walk and rock it. Here’s a sneak peek of my custom-made dress for Saturday!
January 20-27 – Sacramento Bacon Fest
March 1-3 – Bacon Palooza – New York, NY
April 20 – Bacon Fest Chicago
May 30-June 2 – Baconfest Michigan – Ann Arbor
Bacon Breakfast Cookies, Peanut Butter Cookies and Fleur de Sel Brownies – anyone surprised by which one sold out first?