MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Bacon bashes

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

Baconfest in Chicago.

© Ben Collins-Sussman

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. At Des Moines' Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival one year, a Nebraska woman put away 2˝ 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 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 the festivals in 2017.

Feb. 2, BaconFest in Rochester, Minn. This fund-raiser at the Kahler Apache hotel is part of WinterFest and is one of the few to allow children.

Feb. 18, Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines. The 10th edition of this blowout at the Iowa Events Center features four levels of bacon: a Bacon Education Center, the bacon-sampling hall, a Bacon Strip of six bars and a pop-up bacon nightclub.

Feb. 19, Baconfest MKE in Milwaukee. In this city, famous for hogs of a different stripe, top chefs will create bacon cuisine at the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino.

March 4, Bacon and Beer Festival in Fargo, N.D. In Scheels Arena, sample bacon dishes from 14 restaurants plus more than 100 different beers. 

General-admission tickets are $30, $15 for a bacon-only designated driver.

Bacon Bash in River Falls.

© River Falls chamber

In River Falls, girls compete in the costume contest.

March 31-April 1, Baconfest Chicago. This is a major foodie festival, with tastings and demos from more than 160 chefs at UIC Forum.

April 1, North Iowa Baconfest in Clear Lake, Iowa. At the Surf Ballroom, sample bacon tidbits and compete to eat the most bacon and make the best pig impression.

April 15, Bacon and Beer Classic in Minneapolis. At Nicollet Island Pavilion, try more than 50 craft beers, sample bacon-infused gourmet dishes, eat unlimited bacon strips and play giant Jenga and cornhole.

June 10, 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. 

Tickets are available only in advance.

June 17, 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.

Late June through August, Beer & Bacon Cruises in St. Paul. On the Mississippi River across from downtown, the Padelford Riverboats offer these cruises on some Saturday evenings.

June 24, Bacon, Brew & BBQ Fest in Sun Prairie, Wis. This all-you-can-eat and -drink festival in Angell Park is part of the three-day Summer Feast, which includes the free Fiery Foods Festival on Friday and the free World Food Fest on Sunday.

Sept. 16-17, 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.

Oct. 5, Baconfest in Dubuque, Iowa. Taste-test and vote on the best bacon dishes from local chefs and best bacon-based and -inspired brews and cocktails at the Grand River Center.


Last updated on April 7, 2017