Thousands Attend Iowa's Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival

4:38 PM, Feb 9, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Iowa governor pardons Bonnie the pig before Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival

Attendee at the 2013 Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival (Photo: Grant Rodgers, Des Moines Register)

by Grant Rodgers, Des Moines Register


  • This year marks the 6th annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival
  • In 2012, attendees consumed 6000 lbs of bacon
  • The Iowa-based event sold out of its 8,000-plus tickets in 3 minutes and 22 seconds.

IOWA - What happens when a bacon-wrapped jalapeno pepper ends up being a bit skimpy on the meat?

For two friends at the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, there's an easy solution. They collected more free bacon and wrapped their peppers until content.

On Saturday Sam Dwire and Brett Pike both made their first trip to the annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival. This year's event sold out 8,000 tickets in four minutes and brought people to the Iowa State Fairgrounds for the day.

"I've heard about it on the radio for years," Dwire said. "You hear, 'Bacon Fest is next week, but it's sold out.' I always wanted to do it."

By 11 a.m., after just 45 minutes in the festival, Dwire and Pike had managed to take in a few vendors' bacon samples, voting Iowa Falls-based Vande Rose Farms' to be the best.

Bacon is well-known for its saltiness, but just like many other festival-goers, Dwire and Pike stuck to the main

"More beer," Pike said.

Even with a ticket, there was some waiting to get in to the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival. By 9:45, 15 minutes before opening, the line on the Iowa State Fairgrounds stretched around the Varied Industries building to the fair's administration building.

Standing in the line, Des Moines resident Josh VandeWiele, 29, wore his perfect Baconfest outfit: A bluet-shirt featuring the face of Ron Swanson, a character from the NBC show "Parks and Recreation."

In the show, Swanson, played by Nick Offerman, is the dry director of the parks department of the fictious Pawnee, Ind. Among his favorite vices are breakfast food and fine Scotch.

VandeWiele says he ordered the shirt three days ago and did two-day shipping to make sure it'd get to Des Moines for the big day.

"I'm a huge Ron Swanson fan," VandeWiele said. "I signed up for an Amazon Prime account just so I could get it here."

VandeWiele - a second-time festival-goer - was one who sat by his office computer to ensure he'd get a ticket.

"I have a desk I just waited till they went on sale and snagged them up," he said. "I was waiting down to the second."

A major highlight of Baconfest last year for him: Bacon-flavored bloody mary mix that he hopes to see again this year.

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