In 2001, at a weekend stay in Spirit Lake, Iowa, a group of guys started to celebrate their common love for bacon.
By 2008, their small celebration evolved into what is today known as the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, which has taken Des Moines by storm — or by extremely painful stomach aches after consuming unhealthy amounts of bacon. Let’s be honest, though: If you were going to eat yourself into a comatose state, wouldn’t you want bacon to be the food that leads you there? This Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Varied Industries Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds will be packed with bacon lovers who have no problem with food comas.
But what exactly is this bacon festival all about? Well, it is shockingly comprised of numerous bacon-themed events.
There was a chance to earn tickets to the festival through a song contest that produced some quality tributes to the heart attack snack. Those who won received four free tickets to the festival, and they have the opportunity to perform their song live on stage.
In addition to the song contest, there are other ways to get your fair share of bacon, namely “The Competition.” The Competition is the eating contest that is sure to attract some of the best and most oddly skilled bacon eaters in the state of Iowa. If you’re expecting to breeze through for a win, think again. Manni Balignasay has won each year. He seems to be a giant in the sport, and if any Drake student tries to compete, he or she should be ready to consume an inordinate amount of pig. Try to make it to a few Hubbell breakfasts before Saturday to prepare.
Another event is the “Bacon Showcase,” which is probably the most interesting and entertaining event for people who are simply casual fans of bacon. That is, for those who enjoy the taste but like to avert life-threatening situations. Essentially, the showcase allows attendees to sample some of the nation’s best bacon from the brands of Hormel to Iowa Farm Families. With all the varieties tested and eaten, each attendee leaves knowing their niche bacon brand. It really helps food lovers find themselves.
For students, though, perhaps the most fitting event is the “Bacon Lecture Series.” Yes, the festival has a lecture series. Iowa has seen the “most brilliant bacon minds” speak on various topics, but this year, the festival looks to top them all. The speaker will “address concerns about apocalyptic survival skills and how to best preserve bacon in preparation for a variety of transformative and cataclysmic events.” You know what this means, Drake? Even if the Mayans were right about 2012, Iowa isn’t going anywhere. We’ll be sitting on stacks on bacon while the rest of Earth wonders how we did it.
In all seriousness, the fifth annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival looks to be a pretty fun time. The festival is expecting to attract roughly 4,000 people compared to the 180 that attended the very first one. So, try to arrive early. If you’re looking for a fun way to spend a Saturday in Des Moines, then there is no doubt that the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival is a safe bet.