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Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines, Iowa, Pardons Pig


8,000 attend annual festival

From bacon tastings to bacon lectures, the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines, Iowa, which took place Feb. 9, offered a bacon-infused day to the nearly 8,000 people (9,000 if you include vendors and purveyors) in attendance.

Bacon Week, which began Feb. 3, was the sizzling warm-up to this flavorsome pig fest. During this week, Des Moines was host to bacon-focused brunches and dinners and even a make bacon at home day. And this year, not only was a Berkshire sow pardoned at the governor’s mansion, but a bacon beauty queen was crowned.

In an interview with The Daily Mail, Brooks Reynolds, CEO of the event and chairman of the Iowa Bacon Board, explained how the event began. "It just started with a group of buddies celebrating bacon with a couple of beers, and we decided to make it an event six years ago and to double it in size each year," he said. "It’s a chance to celebrate bacon’s fellowship," added Reynolds. "[It’s] just a great day of all things bacon and a fun day to celebrate everyone’s favorite meat."

Tickets sold out in three minutes and 14 seconds this year, so it might be best to plan ahead for next year, given the rising popularity of this event.


Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines, Iowa, Pardons Pig - Recipes

It's been an amazing day, and I'm thrilled to share my little adventure with you all. I was lucky enough to snag a ticket to the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines. The tickets sold out in 20 minutes, and I still can't believe I got one. It was an awesome event, and all the bacon-inspired food was so good, I think I ended up eating like 2 pounds of bacon in one afternoon. But so worth it!

There were huge lines for most of the food booths, so I often didn't know what I was going to end up eating until I got to the front of the line. I let out a little squeal when I saw the menu at the Gusto Pizza Booth. Bacon, peanut butter & banana pizza? Yes please!

"The Elvis" - bacon, peanut butter & banana pizza.
Another favorite was the Maytag blue cheese paired with bacon & honey. I could have eaten the whole tray-full.

To be honest, I wasn't all that excited to stand in line for the bacon tacos, but they turned out to be delicious. It was a new spin on the classic BLT sandwich. I must try this at home!

My favorite bacon dish was actually a dessert -- the caramel bacon gelato from Chocolaterie Stam. Sounds strange, but it was so good. I may never eat ice cream without bacon again :)

And I couldn't resist buying a couple slices of chocolate-covered bacon. I was lucky I bought it when I did, because they were sold out within a few minutes.


DES MOINES, Iowa -- The smell of bacon was in the air Saturday as thousands converged on Iowa's capital city for an increasingly popular festival celebrating all things connected with the meat.

Some people wore Viking hats and others walked around with makeshift snouts for the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival. The annual event featured more than 10,000 pounds of bacon served in unusual ways, such as chocolate-dipped bacon and bacon-flavoured cupcakes and gelato.

"I love bacon more than I love my job," said Katie Nordquist, who was dressed in a tuxedo T-shirt that looked like bacon Saturday for her first time at the festival.

And there was a lot of bacon to choose from. The smell of unique concoctions like bacon gumbo and chocolate bacon bourbon tarts wafted through one of two buildings at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The other building had an Iceland theme, with a Viking boat and Icelandic dishes with bacon, to honour a group of delegates visiting from the country.

Urbandale resident Mike Vogel showed up for a fourth year wearing a head-to-toe bacon costume. He said a widespread love for bacon is the reason about 8,000 tickets to the event sold out in just over three minutes.

"I think it's the right time of year when everybody's been cooped up," said the 39-year-old videographer. "It's a good time to get out, have some fun, try some new stuff, have a few beers and enjoy yourselves with everybody else."

Other events scheduled included lectures about bacon and an eating competition. The festival was preceded earlier in the week with a bacon queen pageant and a pig pardon by Gov. Terry Branstad.

Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association, said bacon used to be just a breakfast food. Now chefs from across the state and country use it in everything from vegetable dishes to desserts.

"It's come a long way and you can find it in almost any kind of food or beverage offering," she said.

Festival co-founder Brooks Reynolds, who officially started the event just a few years ago, said it's become the largest bacon showcase in the world. He called the event a "bacon fellowship."

"They can just bond with their fellow man and just celebrate the meat that everybody enjoys," he said.


12th Annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival Celebrates the Year of the Pig

DES MOINES, Iowa — Saturday marks the 12 th annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival. This year’s theme pays homage to the Chinese New Year, Year of the Pig, and it is called “Hello Piggy, East Meats West.”

“It’s a celebration of the 60 th anniversary of the Iowa and Yamanashi [Japan], sister-state relationship,” Chairman of the Iowa Bacon Board Brooks Reynolds said. “So, it is an Asian theme with a lot of Asian flavors and dishes this year.”

The Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival takes over the entire Iowa Events Center.

“We have four levels of bacon excitement, the main floor is the vendors, we have 20 plus vendors. Then the themed bar areas, we have a dojo where there is a sumo wrestling area, karaoke bar, silent disco and the top floor is Club Sizzle,” Reynolds said.

Everyone at the event gets free slices of bacon, they prepare 100,000 slices of bacon.

Visitors have more than 50 food items to choose from and each item is between $5 and $7.

The bacon festival is Saturday at the Iowa Events Center from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. You can buy tickets online or at the door for $27.50 or get early admission with some extra bacon bucks for $53.

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Ultimate Guide winter event: Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival

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Tricia Watson and husband Tom, of Pleasant Hill, and their wedding officient Adam Poch talk about their experience as the first couple married at the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 in Des Moines, Iowa.

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Trent Johnson of Urbandale eats bacon at the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in February. (Photo: register file photo) Buy Photo

Each year, the theme is different but each year, the thirst for bacon is the same.

In 2013, 8,000 tickets to the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival sold out in three minutes. For the 2014 event, 12,000 tickets managed to last almost an hour.

But they still sold out and, if Iowans remain as bacon-insatiable as ever, the fate of Bacon Fest won't change anytime soon. In fact, you can probably count on popularity of the event continuing to rise.

The festival is serious in its pursuit of bacon worship. Industry professionals are invited from around the nation to sit and sample bacon, without knowing the brand name, and provide ribbons in various categories. In addition, these judges taste bacon-inspired dishes prepared by Des Moines chefs and restaurateurs to select the three dishes that best represent each style category.

But Bacon Fest is not just for bacon connoisseurs. It's also for the laymen who just happen to like bacon, with many bacon drinks and dishes available to sample. Previous year's offerings have included bacon martinis, bacon gumbo and chocolate bacon bourbon tarts. The event also includes a few eating athletes willing to eat mass amounts as part of the amateur bacon-eating competition, during which contestants down three pounds of cooked bacon in record time.

The festival is preceded by a bacon queen pageant and a pig pardon by the governor earlier in the week.

To complete the bacon circle of life and love, the 2014 event also included a couple of bacon-themed weddings.

Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival

WHERE: Location TBD. The 2013 and 2014 events were held at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.


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"I think it's the right time of year when everybody's been cooped up," said the 39-year-old videographer. "It's a good time to get out, have some fun, try some new stuff, have a few beers and enjoy yourselves with everybody else."

Other events scheduled included lectures about bacon and an eating competition. The festival was preceded earlier in the week with a bacon queen pageant and a pig pardon by Gov. Terry Branstad.

Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association, said bacon used to be just a breakfast food. Now chefs from across the state and country use it in everything from vegetable dishes to desserts.

"It's come a long way and you can find it in almost any kind of food or beverage offering," she said.

Festival co-founder Brooks Reynolds, who officially started the event just a few years ago, said it's become the largest bacon showcase in the world. He called the event a "bacon fellowship."

"They can just bond with their fellow man and just celebrate the meat that everybody enjoys," he said.


Thousands Converge at Iowa Bacon Festival in 'A Celebration of That Meat That Everyone Enjoys

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, left, pardons a Berkshire pig named Bonnie at the governor's mansion on Friday, Feb. 8, 2013 in Des Moines, Iowa ahead of the annual bacon festival. (Photo: AP)

(TheBlaze/AP) -- The smell of bacon was in the air Saturday as thousands converged on Iowa's capital city for an increasingly popular festival celebrating all things connected with the meat.

Some people wore Viking hats and others walked around with makeshift snouts for the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival. The annual event featured more than 10,000 pounds of bacon served in unusual ways, like chocolate-dipped bacon and bacon-flavored cupcakes and gelato.

"I love bacon more than I love my job," said Katie Nordquist, who was dressed in a tuxedo T-shirt that looked like bacon Saturday for her first time at the festival.

(Photo: AP)

And there was a lot of bacon to choose from. The smell of unique concoctions like bacon gumbo and chocolate bacon bourbon tarts wafted through one of two buildings at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The other building had an Iceland theme, with a Viking boat and Icelandic dishes with bacon, to honor a group of delegates visiting from the country.

Urbandale resident Mike Vogel showed up for a fourth year wearing a head-to-toe bacon costume. He said a widespread love for bacon is the reason about 8,000 tickets to the event sold out in just over three minutes.

"I think it's the right time of year when everybody's been cooped up," said the 39-year-old videographer. "It's a good time to get out, have some fun, try some new stuff, have a few beers and enjoy yourselves with everybody else."

(Photo: AP)

Other events scheduled included lectures about bacon and an eating competition. The festival was preceded earlier in the week with a bacon queen pageant and a pig pardon by Gov. Terry Branstad.

Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association, said bacon used to be just a breakfast food. Now chefs from across the state and country use it in everything from vegetable dishes to desserts.

"It's come a long way, and you can find it in almost any kind of food or beverage offering," she said.

(Photo: AP)

Festival co-founder Brooks Reynolds, who officially started the event just a few years ago, said it's become the largest bacon showcase in the world. He called the event a "bacon fellowship."

"It's a day dedicated to all things bacon, and it's just a celebration of that meat that everyone enjoys," he said.


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The monster sandwich featured brown sugar and black-pepper encrusted pork-belly bacon with candied-bacon jam.

And in the capstone event of the growing festival, a "Bacon Queen" was crowned.

Des Moines resident Kim Pfannebecker woman took home the tasty honor after providing the best responses during an intense question-and-answer session with festival organizers.

Her prize? A plastic crown and a dress stitched entirely from bacon by Iowa fashion designer Sarah Dornink.


Bacon Festival Jr. – JURASSIC PORK

Do you want to share your love of bacon with your kiddos? Then this just might be the event for you! Sounds tasty to me.

The Science Center of Iowa, in partnership with the organizers of the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, will host a bacon-centric educational event aimed at engaging families in science through the mysteries of bacon.

This year’s theme, “JURASSIC PORK,” piggybacks off of SCI’s latest traveling exhibition, Ultimate Dinosaurs.

Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival Jr. – JURASSIC PORK
Sunday, January 25
12:00 – 5:00 pm
at the Science Center of Iowa

WHAT HAPPENS AT BACON FESTIVAL JR.?

Only the Science Center of Iowa can combine the sizzle of bacon with the science that makes it so palatable! Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival Jr. events include:

Bacon Expo: The main event will feature vendors from Central Iowa and hundreds of pounds of bacon. Along with free samples, assorted bacon foods will be available from vendors for between 1 to 5 “Bacon Bucks.”

Live Science Demonstrations: Programs will include The Secret Science of Bacon and Pig Tales (Storytime in the Star Theater Planetarium).

PassPork: Use your senses and get your “PassPork” stamped to become a CertiFRIED Baconologist.

Pig Petting Zoo: Meet micro mini pigs in the Pig Petting Zoo.

Pig Calling Contest: Hear a hog calling demonstration and participate for your chance to win prizes.

Tickets are limited and on sale now: Purchase tickets (Click “Buy Tickets To,” then January 25)

With the purchase of a ticket, attendees receive admission to SCI and Bacon Expo, two (2) “Bacon Bucks” redeemable for bacon and bacon-inspired food, bacon education and giveaways courtesy of the Iowa Pork Producers. Tickets also include admission to Ultimate Dinosaurs, SCI’s current traveling exhibition that features 12 dinosaur specimens from South America, Africa and Madagascar.

*All non-member tickets purchased online will be charged an additional $2 convenience fee per ticket

**Tickets for children under the age of 5 are free of charge, will not be charged a convenience fee, and do not include “Bacon Bucks”.


Bacon enthusiasts converge in Iowa for festival

John Allen said there are few things he loves more than bacon, but Rachel Dieter is one of them. Allen got down on one knee at the 6th Annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines and proposed. She said yes.

Bonnie, a Berkshire breed pig about 2 1/2 months old, waits for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to pardon her outside the governor's mansion Friday, Feb. 8, 2013 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo: Barbara Rodriguez/ AP)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Thousands converged Saturday on the world's largest bacon showcase, a festival celebrating all things connected with the meat.

Some people wore Viking hats and others walked around with makeshift pig snouts for the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival. The U.S. event featured more than 10,000 pounds (4,500 kilograms) of bacon served in unusual ways, including chocolate-dipped bacon and bacon-flavored cupcakes and gelato.

"I love bacon more than I love my job," said Katie Nordquist, who was dressed in a tuxedo T-shirt that looked like bacon.

The smell of concoctions like bacon gumbo and chocolate bacon bourbon tarts wafted through the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The other building had an Iceland theme, with a Viking boat and Icelandic dishes with bacon, to honor a group of delegates visiting from the country.

Mike Vogel, wearing a head-to-toe bacon costume, said a widespread love for bacon is the reason about 8,000 tickets to the event sold out in just over three minutes.

"I think it's the right time of year when everybody's been cooped up," said the 39-year-old videographer. "It's a good time to get out, have some fun, try some new stuff, have a few beers and enjoy yourselves with everybody else."

Other events scheduled included lectures about bacon and an eating competition. The festival was preceded with a bacon queen pageant and a pig pardon by Gov. Terry Branstad.

Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association, said bacon used to be just a breakfast food. Now chefs across the country use it in everything from vegetable dishes to desserts.

Festival co-founder Brooks Reynolds, who officially started the event a few years ago, called the event a "bacon fellowship."

"They can just bond with their fellow man and just celebrate the meat that everybody enjoys," he said.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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