Bacon bashes

If you fry it, they will come. Here's where to pig out around the region.

Baconfest in Chicago.
At Chicago's Baconfest, hundreds of chefs prepare dishes.

Have you ever had enough bacon?

If not, you can get your chance at a rasher of pork parties around the region. One year at Des Moines' Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, a Nebraska woman put away 2½ pounds in less than five minutes.

If you're wondering how the bacon boom started, Business Week can give you the official answer. It has to do with pork-belly futures (seriously).

Here's a better answer: The world is complicated, and bacon is simple.

It tastes great and goes with everyone else we love: beer, cheese, burgers.

Plus, pigs are funny — the kind with snouts and also their human equivalents. That makes it fun to indulge in all kinds of antics, from prize-filled pigs flying off rooftops to bacon-theme bicycle rides.

At these bacon fests, tickets generally include live music and various swag, such as glasses and T-shirts.

Here are some of the best festivals and events.

February, Baconfest MKE in Milwaukee. In this city, famous for hogs of a different stripe, top chefs create bacon cuisine at the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino.

May, Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines. This bacon blowout at the Horizon Events Center features a bacon-eating contest and cooking demos, plus sampling. There's music on two stages and such games as human foosball, ax-throwing and mechanical bull-riding.

June, Beer, Bacon and Cheese in New Glarus, Wis. The tasting in this Swiss town near Madison, in the middle of cheese country and home to one of Wisconsin's best breweries, is part of Polka Festival.

Bacon Bash in River Falls.
In River Falls, girls compete in the costume contest.

June, BACooN Ride Too from Waukee, Iowa. This bacon-themed 72-mile ride starts just west of Des Moines and follows the paved Raccoon River Valley Trail.

Treats along the route include bacon cinnamon rolls and bacon ice-cream sandwiches.

July, Bacon and Brews in Madison. This dog-friendly festival at McPike Park features hundreds of craft beers and live music as well as artisan bacon-infused dishes.

September, Beer & Bacon Fest in Wausau, Wis. This festival on Fern Island Park in the Wisconsin River also features live music.

September, Bacon Bash in River Falls, Wis. In this western Wisconsin town, there are pig races, a pig-calling contest, costume contests, a pig-wing eating contest, an amateur bacon cook-off and many bacon dishes, including ice cream.

There's also live music, children's activities and a craft-beer tent.

November, Beer and Bacon Walk in Racine, Wis. At 20 downtown locations, bacon-infused bites are paired with beer from local breweries.

Last updated on January 30, 2022

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