By Patti Brown
Iowans of all political persuasions were in hog heaven Saturday at this year’s Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival held at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. There was no partisan bickering as people from both sides of the aisle came together for a day to celebrate all things pork in the state’s capital city.
While the doors opened at 10 a.m. for the sixth annual porkulus extravaganza, traffic was backed up on I-235 east-bound leading to the exit ramp along University Boulevard at 9:45 a.m. as thousands of road hogging cars crawled toward the Fairground’s east gate entrance. Some legislators are rumored to be preparing a new road works bill to correct this problem before next year’s event.
At 10:20 a line of bacon-hungry Iowans stretched from the corner of Rock Island Avenue and the Grand Avenue Concourse to the entry doors on the south side of the Varied Industries Building. The aroma of bacon filled the cold Iowa air with mouth-watering anticipation. Regulators with the EPA were said to be in route to monitor the air quality. It is assumed that they found the aroma to exceed expectations.
Once inside, ticketholders pigged-out on chocolate covered bacon and bacon flavored gelato from Chocolaterie Stam, bacon gumbo from Jethro’s BBQ, “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” pizza from Gusto Pizza, blue cheese bacon pretzels from Maytag Dairy Farms, pineapple-bacon quesadillas from Viva La Bamba, bacon guacamole from Saint’s, pork sliders from Mo’ Rub, bacon-carmel-pecan-bourbon ice cream from Exile Brewing Company, bacon vodka pudding shots from the Iowa Machine Shed, bacon popcorn from Tursi’s Latin King, and the Original BaconExplosion sandwich from the BBQ Addicts which is a bacon-wrapped bacon-stuffed Italian sausage to die for!
With people eating like pigs, neither New York’s Mayor Bloomberg nor First Lady Michelle Obama were allowed anywhere near Des Moines.
Some of the nation’s premier bacon purveyors brought home the bacon with sampling booths including Vande Rose Farms, Rustic Rooster Farms, Des Moines Bacon, Eden Farms, Denver Bacon Company, Farmland, Hormel, and Tender Belly Bacon. Going from bacon booth to bacon booth was like an adult’s only trick-or-treating event where the booty was a slice of fried pork.
All that cured pork can cause a mighty thirst, and what better way to chase it away than with a cold beer or a prohibition-era cocktail. The folks from Templeton Rye were on hand with their mobile speakeasy and taught a seminar on how to mix a bacon maple old fashioned made with bacon infused Templeton Rye. Craft beers, specialty vodkas, wines and Crown Royal Maple whiskey were in abundance.
Some people hammed-it-up for the occasion by dressing in bacon-themed attire. The results were not always flattering on pork-fed Iowa figures but no one could be accused of trying to put lipstick on a pig at this year’s bacon fest. A few pig-headed people from some silly organization opposed to eating pork and other animals stood behind barricades and shouted through a megaphone at festival goers, “Don’t you know that bacon is bad for you?”
The 8,000 tickets for the event went on sale for $35 each at twelve minutes and twelve seconds after twelve o’clock noon on December 12, 2012 (12:112 p.m. on 12/12/12) and sold out in less than four minutes. This past week tickets were being sold on StubHub for as much as $150. A portion of the proceeds from the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival go to help non-profit organizations in the community, and that’s no hogwash.
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