The inaugural BaconFest launched on July 4th, leaving behind a wealth of thoroughly-porked, completely satisfied event guests. Because who doesn’t love bacon?
While Americans celebrated the 4th of July in their own fashion, with the usual fireworks, barbecues, and excessive drinking, Edmontonians did things a little differently. Those inclined towards the edible flocked to the ATB Financial Arts Barns for a taste of the good stuff: bacon. The city’s first Bacon Festival had two back-to-back events, offering guests a 150-minute opening to the best of the city’s porkiest treats. A ticket to the inaugural BaconFest guaranteed entry and gave you unlimited access (within reason) to each of the booths at the event.
Upon entry, guests were given a ticket for a free Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, although those averse to hops and malted barley could go left instead of right and find themselves at the Bakon Vodka booth, where two lovely ladies were serving up tasters of Bakon Caesars.
Across the entry lobby, you’d find bacon wares from Chicken Scratch, nibbles from restaurants such as La Ronde, Cookshack BBQ Nisku, and Century Hospitality Group, wine tasters from Lifford Wine and Spirits, and a delightful lounging area for those wanting to sit and savour their porky treats.
In the main hall, guests were treated to everything bacon, from Acme Meat Market‘s smoked bacon, to Central Social Hall‘s Bacon Roses, to The Popcorn Shoppe‘s bacon popcorn and Passion Sucree‘s Beer and Bacon Brownies. At the centre of it all, a DJ played great tunes while a big screen flashed bacon trivia to entertain the guests lingering at cocktail tables.
This festival didn’t just focus on the food, though. Around 10:30pm (we had attended the later time slot), the MC introduced the Baconmeister–Edmonton’s answer to Alan Carr in a bacon suit, bacon socks, and beautifully classic handlebar moustache. Games were played and prizes were awarded while the Baconmeister entertained the crowd with his delightfully flamboyant character and worldly “knowledge” of languages. In all honesty, I couldn’t quite keep my eyes off of his socks.
The event wrapped up with an acrobatic performance from Edmonton’s own Firefly Theatre, in which one performer undertook great aerial feats while wrapped in long sheets of cloth, which happened to look suspiciously like large pieces of streaky bacon.
As if these elements weren’t enough, there were also a gaggle of food trucks waiting outside for those who simply just wanted more. From Big City Sandwich to Molly’s Eats, the trucks had your back with even more bacon-inspired nibbles. They weren’t included in the ticket price, but that would be nothing to deter a true bacon-lover.
Here are my highlights from the first BaconFest event:
- Cookhouse BBQ Nisku‘s Bacon and Brisket Sandwich – Coated in mustard, this sandwich was perfect. They kept it simple and it really, really worked.
- Century Hospitality Group‘s BBQ’d Bacon – Not for people who don’t like a little fat with their bacon, this mini-meal was served with a beautiful smoky bean and bacon cassoulet and jalapeño bacon cornbread. Smoky and delicious.
- Passion Sucree‘s Beer and Bacon Brownies – Delightfully baked with a hint of bacon, these were perfectly sweet and oh-so-moist.
- Acme Meat Market‘s Smoked Bacon – As a bacon traditionalist, I appreciated the fact that one vendor served only bacon…and what bacon! Thick, smoky, and beautiful. Mmm.
- Baconmeister’s Socks – I think I’ve made my point.
- Chicken Scratch‘s Bacon Board Game – Actually, I’m impressed that Chicken Scratch managed to bring in THAT many bacon-related items. Who knew bacon chapstick, wallets, and Christmas tree ornaments were a thing?
- Vegan Protesters – Guests were first greeted by vegan protesters outside of the building, all three of whom appeared to hold a personal vendetta against the fact that people willingly choose to eat meat. Their presence made for some pre-show entertainment, at least. C’est la vie, protesters.
All in all, a bacony good time was had by all. Great food and amazing vendors combined with hilarious entertainment and a solid number of bartenders did much to make this event a success. At the end of the day, though, those who love bacon tend to really love bacon, so the buy-in was immense. I’ll definitely be back next year and can only hope to get another glimpse of those bacon socks. Heck, I might even have a pair of my own by then.
July 4th, 2014
ATB Financial Arts Barns
10330 – 84 Avenue
Edmonton, AB T6E 2G9