Bacon-themed event draws fans, donations

by Erica Shaffer
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Bacon love abounded at the 2012 Annual Bacon Fest: The Other Fundraiser held Aug. 25 at the Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City (RIKC).

More than 2,000 people turned out to indulge in craft beers, live bands and, of course, bacon-based treats supplied by local vendors. The event, which is growing in popularity, grossed $96,000, according to Katie Lindgren, communications coordinator for RIKC. All proceeds go to fund medical rehabilitation, job placement and disability services for persons who have experienced a catastrophic injury, illness or limiting condition.

“In comparison to last year, it’s almost doubled in fundraising,” Lindgren said. “It definitely has grown from years past and hopefully will continue to grow. We were very pleased with the turnout and the level of enthusiasm of the people there.”

Bacon has moved beyond the breakfast table, a trend that was evident by the variety of bacon and pork dishes available for attendees to sample — bacon pierogies, bacon brownies, bacon cheddar brats and even bacon vodka Bloody Marys. Art Institutes International of Kansas City won the vendor recipe competition with its bacon benedict which is a cheddar biscuit, bacon sausage, poached egg and bacon hollandaise.

Paradise Locker Meats of Trimble, Mo., provided a whole roasted hog injected with maple sugar cure and barbecue seasoning for the company’s pulled pork.

“We do a ton of those throughout the year,” said Teresa Fantasma, who owns Paradise Locker Meats with Mario Fantasma. “When we became aware that Bacon Fest was going on last year, we wanted to be a part of it.

“Last year we did bacon cheeseburgers and a hog,” she said. “It’s just us trying to be a part of a fundraiser and promoting our products.”

Farmland Foods, Inc. was one of many event sponsors, and several of the 14 local vendors incorporated the company’s bacon in their recipes. In addition to offering samples of freshly prepared bacon, Farmland also served peanut butter bacon cookies, Spicy Bacon-Wrapped Taters and other tasty tidbits prepared as part of cooking demonstrations with Bert Lawson, manager of Culinary & Consumer Services at Farmland Foods.

Bacon Fest attendees were also treated to a bacon-eating contest in which contestants were given five minutes to eat as much of the 2 lbs. of bacon placed before them. Farmland sponsored the contest and donated the bacon.

According to NPD Group, bacon has seen the most growth in dinner-time meals as consumers add a few slices to burgers or use them as an appetizer ingredient. Despite economic woes, it is one product that doesn’t seem to lose its appeal.

“I don’t know; it’s one of those things,” Lindgren said. “If you had an Apple Fest it might have a lot of people there, but put the word bacon in and people go wild.”

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