Bacon lovers of the world unite – BaconFest is here. Just when you thought Roanoke had played host to about every type of festival imaginable, along comes one that celebrates the venerable fried pork strip delicacy. BaconFest VA, patterned after similar events that have been held elsewhere, will take place on August 31 from 10am to 5 pm at Roanoke’s Railside Plaza off Salem Avenue downtown.
Admission is $5.00 and several taste ticket packages will enable attendees to try bacon recipes concocted by local eateries in small portions. Almost 700 tickets have been sold already (see BaconFestVA.com or the Facebook page) and a portion of the proceeds from festival sponsorships will benefit Commonwealth Autism Service. Kids age 5 and under are free. There will be face painting and other activities for children as well.
There will also be music with Barrelhouse, a band out of Richmond and from Craig Hanson and the Gypsies, who hail from Lynchburg. DJ Harvest Blaque of Roanoke will take care of the interludes. Steve FM is running a contest till August 26 and will be on site all day during the event. Arts vendors are also expected to be setting up booths. A limited number of t-shirts will be sold for those that want to remember BaconFest after the event ends. A variety of beverages will also be available for purchase.
Roanoke is hosting the second bacon celebration in the state, after Richmond. Believe it or not, the Saturday before Labor Day is unofficially known as “International Bacon Day.” BaconFestVA is still accepting both food and art vendors, according to Cassandra Williams, the event coordinator and organizer.
“I think it’s going to go over well,” said Williams. “Everyone I have talked to is excited and on board [about the concept].” Roanoke already has strawberry, peach and chicken wing festivals – so why not bacon, that long time breakfast and hamburger topping staple? Bacon delicacies available on the 31st include bacon chocolate Oreos, bacon hot wings, chipotle-dipped bacon and bacon cheddar popcorn.
Each vendor will be bringing as many as eight different variations of bacon dishes for people to try out. Williams said the BaconFests held around the country have typically been sold out. Everyone likes bacon after all – even if they don’t want to admit it. “Bacon festivals have become very popular elsewhere,” noted Williams.
The Noke Truck and Fork in the Market are among the local eateries that have already signed on to appear at BaconFest to whip up their versions of some local bacon delicacies. Williams would like to see 15-20 vendors, at least, in order to handle the expected throng on August 31.
Williams believes several thousand people will be on hand and that Roanoke has plenty of room for bacon amidst its other festivals. “Who doesn’t love bacon anyway? Come out for five bucks and have a great time!”
By Gene Marrant