Des Moines' Blue Ribbon Back Festival has been indulging bacon-lovers for 10 years. See just how much fun and bacon we've enjoyed. Bryon Houlgrave/The Register
This marks the 10th year that Iowans have celebrated all things bacon.
On Saturday, Feb. 18, bacon lovers will gather at the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival X: The Good, the Bad and the Bacon at the Iowa Events Center.
“We stand on the shoulders of bacon-loving giants,” said co-founder Brooks Reynolds. “I, along with my fellow members of the Iowa Bacon Board and the In Any Event team, never dreamed the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival would be celebrating 10 years of bacon fellowship.”
Festival-goers will enjoy samples from nine featured bacon companies totaling 7,470 pounds. There also will be chicken and turkey bacon to sample from Godschall’s, a new bacon purveyor to the event. More than 75 foods featuring bacon will be for sale from 32 restaurants. Items are usually priced from $3-5.
All four levels of the Iowa Events Center will be filled with entertainment, food and drinks celebrating bacon, and a country-and-western theme.
“A western theme just makes sense because the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival is lawless, just like the Old West," Reynolds said. "Rules don’t — and shouldn’t — apply to bacon."
There are plenty of ways for people to enjoy the event, including taking a shot at quick draw laser tag, riding a mechanical bull, or do-si-do-ing at the silent square dance (250 silent disco headsets allow dancers to choose between three different DJs).
On the first floor of the Events Center, get your bacon education. A few of the lectures include learning all about Iowa bacons from Leo Landis, the Bacon Professor; how bacon benefits Iowa from Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey; and Hy-Vee chefs will demonstrate how to make Canadian bacon at home and create some bacon-inspired ice sculptures.
Find one of the event highlights, the bacon-eating competition, at 3 p.m. on the main stage located on the second floor. Other entertainment throughout the day includes music from Mr. Baber’s Neighbors, Jake Gill and American Country. Other contests on the main stage include the Bacon Sheriff contest and costume contest.
The third floor of the Iowa Events Center will be turned into the Bacon Strip with country-and-western themed bars. Head up to the fourth floor where you will find Club Sizzle, a pop-up, bacon-inspired Vegas style dayclub featuring DJs, go-go dancers and a two-step competition.
All of the entertainment, food, drink and contests can be overwhelming. Melinda Toyne with In Any Event has advice for all festival-goers, but especially a first-timer.
“Fast and hydrate! Come hungry and ready to spend the entire day taking in all that the festival has to offer.”
She also suggests checking out the website ahead of time and making a game plan of where you want to go first and which foods you want to try right away. Toyne reminds bacon lovers to “get in the spirit. Those who dress up and embrace the theme always take their bacon fellowship to the next level ... giddy up!”
New food items and vendors
- Chicken Bacon Fried Taco, Eat It
- Belly Sliders, Kue’d Smokehouse
- Thai Bacon Wrap, Noodle Zoo
- Smoked Bacon Chicken Wing, Ribshack
- Chicken Bacon Street Taco, Roadside Tacos
- Smoked Gouda Stuffed Bacon Fused Meatball, Smoke’n BBQ Pitts
- Jones Bacon Bombs, Spectators Bar and Grill
- Maple Bacon Cinnamon Roll, Whip it Up Kitchen Rental
By the numbers
In 10 years ...
- 49,850 people have attended
- More than 300 bacon foods have been judged
- Approximately 1,050,000 slices of bacon have been eaten (that’s 75,000 pounds!)
- Saturday, Feb. 18
- 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
- Iowa Events Center
- Must be 21 or older to attend
- Get tickets at www.blueribbonbaconfestival.com
Founder of Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival describes the 2016 event. Lissandra Villa/DM Juice