Do you enjoy fried pig, travel and camaraderie? If so, it's about time you make the trip to a bacon festival, where meaty dreams come true.
Many of the smaller bacon festivals are held during the summer months, so you have plenty of time to get travel insurance before the celebrations come around again. Think of a city anywhere in the world you've always wanted to see and find the nearest bacon festival to satisfy your curiosity and craving for the delicious snack.
When you're thinking about U.S. travel, the Midwestern states might not be your first-choice destination. However, if you have a passion for tasty breakfast meat, you may be whistling a different tune when you hear about the bacon that awaits you there.
A rural reception
Des Moines, Iowa, is home to the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, one of the biggest bacon celebrations in the U.S. There, you'll find lectures, competitions and booths all focused on the cured meat. The festival has a bacon queen, a bacon eating contest, food samples and live entertainment, according to its website.
It began as a guys' weekend between friends that heavily featured bacon and grew into a genuine interest in the meat. After taking a course in bacon and forming the Iowa Bacon Board, the men created the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival less than a decade ago.
The Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival has been growing exponentially, BaconToday explained, considering the number of people in attendance increased from 8,000 in 2013 to 12,000 in 2014. Bacon lovers travel from more than 40 different states and at least six countries, the event's website stated. The event was recently moved to a bigger venue, the Iowa Arts Center, due to its booming popularity, according to KCCI News, an Iowa CBS affiliate.
If you aren't able to make it to Des Moines, you can catch a glimpse of the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in a mockumentary called "State of Bacon," the event's website explained. It follows several people through their bacon festival journey, but it's intended for audiences over 18 years old.
A city celebration
Much like Boston, New York and Los Angeles, Chicago is well-respected as a major U.S. city. If you've always wanted to experience the Windy City as well as an event dedicated to bacon, Baconfest Chicago is the perfect reason to hop a plane there.
As another major celebration of all things bacon, Baconfest Chicago is a wonderful destination for foodies and meat lovers. Taste all kinds of dishes in the booths, sample bacon-filled recipes from local Chicago restaurants and enjoy a wide range of craft beer. Bacon art contests in the areas of poetry, music, videos and more are held to determine who takes home Golden Rasher Awards, which, according to the event's website, are essentially the bacon Oscars. Soon Baconfest will expand to Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, meaning there will be at least one big bacon festival on each coast.
The 2014 gathering featured Cooking Channel VIP hours, an amateur bacon cookoff, bacon cocktails and a competition for the most creative uses of bacon. The finalists won with dishes such as bacon forest cake, a chocolaty bacon creation, and bacon cereal served with maple milk. Bacon floats, bacon s'mores and candied bacon were among the winning plates as well.
One of the best parts about Baconfest is its connection with food banks and charities in the Chicago area. All of the money raised through ticket sales and corporate sponsors is matched with donations to the organizations that the event supports, such as the Greater Chicago Food Depository.