Dining With Denise Neil

Achin’ for bacon? Head to Saturday’s Midwest Baconfest

Bacon will be the star of Saturday’s Midwest Baconfest.
Bacon will be the star of Saturday’s Midwest Baconfest.

Attendees of Saturday’s Midwest Baconfest, a new food festival at Hartman Arena, will be handed a valuable coupon on the way out the door.

It’s good for a $5 cholesterol check at Via Christi.

They’ll likely need it after the three-hour event, which will offer bites of bacon-studded food from local restaurants, bacon beer, bacon cocktails, bacon merchandise and a bacon-eating contest.

“A lot people are truly passionate about bacon,” said Aran Rush, executive director of Hartman Arena. “As they say, ‘Bacon makes everything better.’ ”

Wichita’s Baconfest, which happens from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Hartman Arena, was inspired by the success of other bacon festivals across the country, Rush said. Similar events are big deals in cities including Chicago and Kansas City. The Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines draws a sell-out crowd of 14,000 and dishes out 15,000 pounds of bacon.

Rush hopes to draw 2,000 people on Saturday.

The main attraction will be samples of bacon-centric foods offered by local restaurants. Just a few examples: fried, bacon-wrapped chicken from Jerseys Grill and Bar; bacon cheddar pancakes from Jimmy’s Egg; a maple bacon shake from Red Robin; and bacon tacos from District Taqueria.

Those who don’t get filled up on free samples can buy baconized food from Hartman Arena’s concessions stand, which will be serving bacon pizza, bacon burgers and bacon popcorn.

Bacon, apparently, is good for drinking, too. River City Brewing Co. will be passing out samples of bacon-flavored beer it brewed just for the event, and a cash bar will be serving bacon martinis, a bacon Bloody Mary and a bacon Old Fashioned.

Achin’ for a bacon wardrobe? A local T-shirt company will be on-site printing bacon-pun T-shirts. People can choose from T-shirts printed with suggested puns or get the company to print a custom shirt.

“It can be however simple you want to make it,” Rush said. “Any bad bacon pun you can imagine on a T-shirt will be there, along with the good ones.”

The festival also will include live music from the band Crossfire, which will perform one set of ’80s rock and one set of country music.

Festival organizers also will name a bacon king or queen. The winner will be the person who submitted in advance the best piece of pork poetry, as determined by judges. The bacon ballads will be read over a microphone during the event.

The grand finale will be a bacon-eating contest at the end of the afternoon. Five contestants already have been chosen, and five more will be chosen during the festival. Each will have two minutes to eat as much bacon as he or she can. The winner will be the person whose pile of bacon weighs the least at the end of the contest.

Rush said he hopes the Midwest Baconfest will become an annual event that will make the community sizzle with anticipation.

“Bacon makes everything taste better,” he said. “Many people referred to it as ‘meat candy.’ ”

If You Go

Midwest Baconfest

What: A celebration of pork perfection

When: 1-4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Hartman Arena, 8151 N. Hartman Arena Drive, Park City

How much: $25 in advance, $35 day of

Tickets: www.ticketmaster.com, 800-745-3000 or at the Hartman Arena box office

Information: www.midwestbaconfest.com