Bacon bashes

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

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

View all images

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 and events, many of them paused during the pandemic.

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.

Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines. The 12th edition of this blowout at the Horizon Events Center features bacon-eating and costume contests, plus sampling. This year's theme is "Baconritaville."

Bacon and Beer Festival in Fargo, N.D. In the Fargodome, sample bacon dishes from20 restaurants plus more than 100 different beers. There's also a bacon-eating contest and mechanical-pig riding.

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

Bacon and Brews in Madison. This festival at Breese Stevens Field features hundreds of craft beers and live music as well as artisan bacon-infused dishes.

June 12, 2021, 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 19, 2021, 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 24, 2021, Bacon and Beer Classic in Minneapolis. On Columbia Golf Course in northeast Minneapolis, there will be more than 40 craft beers and ciders and eight bacon dishes, plus music and games.

Aug. 28, 2021, Paul's Bacon Ride from Brainerd, Minn. Join Paul and Babe the Big Blue Pig for a 45-mile ride on the Paul Bunyan State Trail, with bacon for breakfast, bacon for lunch and bacon stops in between.

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.

Similar Stories

  1. Where to eat in Duluth
    Once known for its dives, this Lake Superior tourist magnet now boasts brewpubs and locavore cafes.
  2. Madison for foodies
    From street carts to fine-dining shrines, Wisconsin's capital city worships food.
  3. 5 festivals that are out of this world
    You'll have a cosmic good time celebrating things that came from outer space.
  4. Pizza on the farm
    In Wisconsin and Minnesota, dinner guests flock to the countryside for ultra-fresh ingredients and idyllic settings.
  5. Tours for foodies
    In tourist towns, guides are feeding a growing appetite for culinary walking tours.
  6. Floating on air
    Looking for a hot-air balloon festival? Keep your eyes on the skies.
  7. Feasting on Fat Tuesday
    When it's time to eat paczki, everyone wants to be a Pole.