October, known as National Pork Month, will have a new addition to its festivities this fall.
In the No. 1 pork-producing state in the nation, Iowa State has chosen to host a BaconFest event. Since the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences approved the idea, the event has changed in several ways, from venue to size.
“Since we’ve announced our idea and have gained approval and a lot of positive feedback, … we’ve really expanded BaconFest substantially,” said Jake Swanson, president of Iowa State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Student Council and chief bacon officer of the event.
The event, set for Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, is expected to draw large crowds.
BaconFest General Co-chair Kelley Glanz said the committee is marketing to the entire state of Iowa, and although there is no estimated crowd size yet, she expects this to be a “large event.”
“We’ve literally taken an idea, and in the past two months, have grown it to be a huge student organization, really from scratch,” Swanson said.
BaconFest was officially recognized as a student organization on Thursday. It is comprised of nearly 70 students in seven different committees: logistics, sponsorship, vendor, entertainment, security, business management and public relations.
“I can see BaconFest becoming the Veishea of the fall,” Swanson said.
Aimed toward students as well as the public, BaconFest, which will host live bands and recreational activities such as a bacon-eating contest, will also seek to provide an educational experience for those in attendance.
“We’re really going to provide a very strong, educational aspect to this event, which really will set us apart from other BaconFests across the country,” Swanson said.
Glanz said the organization hopes to educate the public specifically about pork production and about agriculture in general.
To accomplish these objectives, the organization has received guidance from its advisers as well as the Iowa Bacon Board, which puts on the Des Moines Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival.
“Planning this has been very difficult because we have nothing to go off. It’s never been done before,” Glanz said.
The event has also taken a changing nature. Swanson described the difference from the original conception of the idea as a “night and day difference.” For example, no longer will the event be hosted on central campus. General Co-chair Kristin Liska said it was changed due to risk management reasons.
A venue, however, has been confirmed and will be released later this week.
“We’re working on getting a bunch of other stuff finalized now, so we can get the ball rolling and start getting money raised,” Liska said.
Expectations for BaconFest include it becoming an annual event. Because it is in its first year, however, the organization, Swanson said, is hoping to break even.
“We just want to break even, so that’s our current goal now. I think we should be able to do that,” Swanson said.
The event has already drawn the attention of major companies in the industry, none of which have been confirmed. The vendors at the event will need to fill out paperwork and pass inspections in order to participate.
Due to food safety regulations, bacon must be prepared at a certain temperature, so Liska said the products would likely be prepared off-site and kept in warmers.
“We are really minimizing as much risk as we can. We don’t foresee any issues there, and it should be a pretty safe event,” Swanson said.
Swanson said as the event is planned, the committee would be in constant contact with “key” players, including the event authorization committee, risk management and the food inspector.
“This is the first year, so we’re learning as we go,” Liska said about BaconFest in general.
The committee members said they hope to appeal to the broadest number of people possible. Ways this will be achieved range from eating options to vendor variety. Swanson said he knows vegetarians planning on attending the event because of the atmosphere, and any vendors would be welcome to participate with any bacon-themed product they may have.
“I don’t think there’s any student organization or any college better in the nation to host a BaconFest than Iowa State,” Swanson said.