The Rehabilitation Institute threw Bacon-Fest last Saturday, with proceeds from ticket sales going to the “nonprofit medical rehabilitation employment placement provider for children and adults with disabilities.” Tickets went from $20 (thanks, Groupon!) to $100 (VIP style — early admission, private beer stands, bathrooms, and access to an air-conditioned indoor area).
My mission was to judge eight original recipes submitted by Bacon-Fest attendees. Two other judges (a marketing manager from Farmland and a food blogger from western Kansas) and I sampled a range of dishes, including the eventual winner — the “Fat Is Good Bacon Cake” (a crumbly lemon johnnycake dessert that listed bacon fat as an ingredient) — and a sauerkraut, bacon and tomato salad (which I gave high marks for taste and originality).
I stuck a greasy finger in the top of a beautifully decorated peanut-butter-bacon cupcake to better taste the maple-butter frosting. The cake was delicious (and would take second place), but I’d soon regret that move.
“Hey, can you do that again?” a male photographer asked.
I cringed. Being in photos is as pleasurable an experience for me as lemon juice in a cracked cuticle. And being photographed eating after I’ve had a few beers? That’s my worst nightmare. But this was for charity, so I rolled my eyes and gave him the most lascivious frosting-and-tongue performance I could muster.
“Like that?” I asked sarcastically. He didn’t seem quite as enthusiastic anymore.
Around 3 p.m., the judges were let loose. The sun was in full effect, the beer lines were clogged, and my fingers and hands were greased. I was feeling well-salted. But I was determined to fully experience Bacon-Fest. And a successful Bacon-Fest experience, I now know, involves three things: eating, drinking and taking breaks to sit in the dead grass and listen to the cover band (heavy on the Pink Floyd). Then repeat.
“Are you a nurse?” asked a man behind the display of medical goods, which sharply contrasted the gastric debauchery going on.
I shook my head. “I’m from The Pitch and I’m writing about the event today,” I said. I held up the catheter. “I’ve, um, just never seen one of these up close.” I stepped closer to him. “So, I’ve got to ask. How do you and these products fit into this Bacon-Fest scene, man?”
He handed me his business card. “These guys are my clients,” he said, thumbing toward the Rehabilitation Institute.
I doubt that Coloplast gained as many new clients as Fogo de Chao, Grandma’s Catering, Local Pig or Trezo Mare. But he was smart to be there, because at Bacon-Fest, you give till it hurts.