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Examiner
  • Jason Offutt: The delicious sizzle of bacon

  •  The line snaked across at least half a mile of the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. People who arrived early stood with hands in their pockets. The late ones ran to secure their own place; some dressed in T-shirts, the more sane wearing Viking helmets and fur.

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  •  The line snaked across at least half a mile of the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. People who arrived early stood with hands in their pockets. The late ones ran to secure their own place; some dressed in T-shirts, the more sane wearing Viking helmets and fur.
    “Even beer fest was easier to get to than this,” a man said, trudging past me on his way to the end of the line, now stretched farther than the half-mile it was just minutes before.
    Beer fest? I later discovered he was talking about the Des Moines Craft Brew Festival. It was coming up again in June, but I didn’t have time to think about a beer festival, which shows you the seriousness of the festival I stood in line for.
    The Iowa Bacon Board organized the first Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival March 1, 2008 to improve “the enjoyment of all things bacon by providing education, recognition, advocacy and research.”
    The festival has grown to a nationwide phenomenon bringing in this year’s record number of 8,000 visitors. Unfortunately, most of them were in my way. The temperature at 10 a.m. was about 25 degrees, and the smell of sizzling bacon wafted through the morning Iowa air, beating me about the head and face with its pork fat goodness. I was understandably antsy.
    By 10:15 a.m., I was inside the festival doors. As the thousands of us filed into the William C. Knapp Varied Industries Building, the smell of cooking bacon consumed every part of my consciousness.
    I’m not kidding. If you’ve never been in a building big enough to hold 8,000 people and an estimated 96,000 strips of cooking bacon, I’m telling you it’s not possible to think of anything else.
    The Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival was set up like a trade show. Booths from Farmland Industries, Tender Belly Bacon, Vande Rose Farms, Des Moines Bacon, and many others dotted the building. But unlike the trade shows I’ve been to, these vendor booths didn’t hand out pamphlets and ink pens. They handed out slices of cooked bacon on napkins.
    Oh, the bacon.
    I didn’t have breakfast outside the festival because, you know, of all the bacon to come. Inside I had bacon for breakfast, brunch, lunch, various snacks and supper. Peppered bacon, apple smoked bacon, jalapeno bacon, thin-cut bacon, thick-cut bacon, chocolate-covered bacon, bacon pizza.
    Have you ever been to heaven? No? Well, I have, and it tastes like everything my doctor told me never to eat.
    But not everything at the festival was about bacon.
    Farmland industries held a number of cooking demonstrations. Oh, wait. The one I went to showed how to make a barbecue bacon cheddar ball, and chipotle bacon caramel corn (both were delicious).
    Page 2 of 2 - Templeton Rye held a demonstration, too. But it was on how to make a bacon-infused maple old fashioned. So I guess everything actually was about bacon.
    I had nothing to eat that day but fatty fried pork. Which was fine health-wise because I had nothing to drink that day but beer. It balances out the body chemistry. Don’t argue with me.
    I felt sick later that night, and the next day, and the next. Will I go again? Well, I figure the human body has only one day in it for abuse like that, so no.
    Oh, wait. I just found a leftover drink ticket in my jacket pocket. Darn it, Bacon Fest, I guess I’ll see you next year.
    Follow Jason Offutt on Twitter @TheJasonOffutt.
     
     
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