So bacon has continued to grow in popularity within recent years, as many of the nation’s fanciest restaurants regularly feature bacon-inspired dishes, as well as similarly themed libations. The old anti-bacon stigma that permeated much of the pop science driven, health consciousness of the eighties and part of the nineties has largely dissipated, leading pork bacon, a high-protein food item that has represented the core of American breakfast for generations, to huge levels of renewed public appreciation and even some scholarly, food-focused study.
And just keeping it real, how many native born and raised southerners do you know who don’t dig Bacon? It ain’t many. And so, the Virginia Bacon Festival this year is well positioned to top last year’s attendance of approximately 2,700 people, which by the way, was way more than the organizers expected for their first annual event. As a matter of fact, according to co-organizer Casey Kohler, who along with a couple of business partners, came up with the idea for the festival, last year’s high turnout “strained our resources.” That won’t likely happen this year, as approximately 20 restaurants are participating, including top names in our local food culture, like Todd Jurich’s Bistro, Belmont House of Smoke, Bite, Cotton Southern Bistro and Public House. There will also be an Eat the Streets 757 Food Truck area, where popular food trucks, which are of course all the rage now, will serve some eclectic bacon infused dishes.
And then there’s the breweries… many of them, including Virginia breweries like Hardywood Park Brewery and Heritage Brewery, as well as the popular local gems, O’Connor and Smartmouth, will make their bacon inspired beers available. There’s also Three Olives Vodka and Kraken Rum, along with other similar spirits based brands that are participating in Saturday’s bacon utopia.
“We thought bacon was a hot item, so we wanted to capitalize on that… but we also wanted to benefit some good groups,” explains Casey, when asked what the motivation was for starting the event last year. “We thought it would sell itself.”
“Bacon has exploded in popularity,” he continues. “There’s a lot of stories on the internet about it going around, so I just thought that this would be a perfect outlet for Norfolk and Tidewater to channel their innermost bacon desires.” Indeed. Yet the festival, as the very name would suggest, is not solely about eating a whole lot of bacon. It’s about that, but also about celebrating the whole culture of bacon.
So of course there will be some kick-ass music from VA music acts of note. This year, it’s The Fuzz Band, The Fighting Jamesons, and The Killroos, all of whom have generated local buzz. Beyond the music, there will be a kids area, cooking demonstrations, a Culinary Institute of Virginia “Bacon Bowl,” which will feature competing bacon creations from student teams. Attendees will be able to vote on their favorite dish as part of the competition. And of course there’s the obligatory bacon eating contest. This year, organizers are even providing cool down air conditioned tents, so our Virginia heat need not be a deterrent.
And while you’re chomping down on some delicious bacon dish, including perhaps one of Reverend Jim’s Bacon Bombs, which Casey raves about, your ticket purchase is also financially benefitting two charities, the Princess Anne Hunt Club Foundation for their agricultural education and animal rescue funds, as well as Beyond Boobs!, which supports young women diagnosed with breast cancer. So not only are you satisfying your once repressed thirst for bacon, your patronage is also positively impacting the local community. Now that’s a win-win folks! See you there.
Visit virginiabaconfestival.com for event times, schedules and ticket prices, including VIP access.