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Organizers of Saturday's Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival organized an impromptu dance party at Capital Square Tuesday that included dancing, free bacon to get people excited for Baconfest. Rachel Mummey/The Register

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The Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival is upon us. The 9th annual celebration will be held at the Iowa Events Center on Feb. 20 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This year’s theme, “Body by Bacon - Sweatin’ to the Sizzle!” will promote a healthy bacon lifestyle by incorporating 1980’s music and aerobic fitness into the bacon festivities. Marshall Porter, chief bacon officer and co-founder of the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, has been running the show with his childhood best friend and bacon fest president Brooks Reynolds.

“We’ve been friends since we were four and worked together through high school throwing parties,” Porter said. “And it’s not just us. There’s a huge team that puts this baby together.”

Porter and Reynolds work hard every year to create something new and interesting for bacon fest attendees. The theme is incorporated into many of the entertainment plans and Porter says even the small things make a difference in the event.

“Even the little stuff is big stuff when it comes to bacon fun,” Porter said. “Every year is a once in a lifetime experience because every year is so different. Except for the bacon; the bacon is always there.”

Ticket package options are available now online and via phone. Must be 21 or older to attend the event. Here are several bacon-y things to look forward to at the festival.

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February is Bacon Fest month, so we thought we'd ask central Iowans what they think about this food. Ake Phetdavieng/For the Register

FOOD AND DRINK

1. Tickets. With every ticket comes at least $10 worth of food and drink tickets. There will be a range of bacon treats available, as well as other food options.

2. The Bacon Strip. Six interactive, themed bars will be available to festival attendees on the third floor throughout the entire event. Themes include Barefoot Wine’s Miami Vice Lounge, The Bacoon Ride Biker Bar, and Morgan’s Pirate Cove.

3. Unlimited bacon samples. With every ticket purchased, attendees will be able to sample unlimited amounts of bacon. Try bacon bites from 37 different food booths located around the venue.

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ACTIVITIES

4. Principal Charity Classic’s 19th Hole. All day on level 3. Practice your putting skills, maybe meet a special secret guest and sip on a John Daly. You can even try on some Bacon Threads golf pants or shorts.

5. Hy-Vee’s Body By Bacon Gym. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on level 2. Burn off a few slices of bacon by participating in an aerobic activity at Hy-Vee’s Body by Bacon Gym. Classes like Zumba, Bacon-aerobics and more will be taking place every 30 minutes. Have fun and earn a special gift.

6. Bacon classes. 11:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Berkwood Farms Bacon Education Center on level 2. Challenge your bacon knowledge and beliefs by attending these bacon education sessions. This year’s speakers include: Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, Leo Landis a.k.a. the Bacon Professor, WWE Hall of Fame Wrestler Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Chef Alex Strauss from West Lakes Hy-Vee, Jeff Russell from Waukee Hy-Vee, and do-it-yourself bacon purveyor Austin Gill.

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CONTESTS

7)  Farmland bacon-eating competition. 3 p.m. on the main stage. 2015 champion Kevin Murphy will defend his title against other bacon athletes to win a trophy and a year’s worth of Farmland bacon.

8) Footloose dance reenactment and contest. Noon on the ballroom level. Presented by Oscar Meyer, this pop-up nightclub will be hosted by the star of "The Bachelor" and "Dancing with the Stars," Chris Soules. Starting with 50 dancers leading the way, participants can learn key moves to dance along with the group. The dance contest will follow immediately after and all must have a festival ticket and a dance partner. The winner will receive a trophy, $500 and a year supply of bacon.

9) Follow along with the “Body by Bacon” challenge. Inspired by the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival’s 2016 theme, Brooks Reynolds, president of the largest bacon festival in the world, has committed himself to getting fit without giving up his love for bacon. On Jan. 20, Reynolds began burning off the bacon with the goal of reaching a healthy weight of under 215 lbs. by the end of the year. He calls it “The Body by Bacon Challenge,” and he’s encouraging fellow overweight bacon-lovers to join him in pursuing a healthy bacon-infused lifestyle. Read all about Brooks' “Bacon Team” on the festival website.

10) Find out who’s the bacon queen. The winner of this year’s contest held on Feb. 18, will be around all day at the festival. Also, find out the restaurant winners for Best Bacon and Best Bacon Dish.

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MUSIC

11) Mr Baber’s Neighbors. 10 a.m. on the main stage. A Solar String band brings the sounds of American Folk Music to the bacon festival, and has since 2012.

12) Kentucky Fried Mullet. 11:30 a.m. on the main stage. This band is coming back together specifically for the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival. The band is known for covering a range of songs from artists like Oasis, the Beatles and Led Zeppelin.

13) The Purple Xperience. 1:15 p.m. on the main stage. This five-piece Prince and The Revolution tribute band brings back the memories of Prince and is led by Grammy-winner Matt Fink, who was once a member of Prince and The Revolution.

14) Hell’s Belle’s. 3:30 p.m. on the main stage. Headlining is an all-female AC/DC tribute band who was endorsed by co-founder of the original AC/DC, Angus Young.

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