When pigs fly

Bacon Fest returns to Fraze

By Tim Walker

Photo: Bacon in all forms blesses Fraze Pavilion Aug. 21, but the blessing is limited; photo courtesy of Schlegel Creative

Of all the many things on this earth that make our lives worth living—friends, family, art, travel, music, the Dayton City Paper—one thing, above all, has the power to bring people together in praise of its legendary deliciousness: bacon. Heaven-sent ambrosia that it is, blessing us with its salty crunch from on high, bacon will be celebrated, in all its guises and in dozens of different ways, at the fourth-annual Bacon Fest.

“People love bacon. Dayton loves bacon,” says Amy Zahora, executive director of the Miami Valley Restaurant Association since 2005, and the person responsible for the annual festival. “We had so many people show up the first year we did this—it was unreal. It’s just grown from there, and one of the great things is that it’s only local restaurants—I don’t let any chains in.”

Who doesn’t love bacon? A meat product prepared from pork and usually cured, bacon has been a favorite part of our country’s diet for generations. In preparation worldwide, bacon is usually made from side and back cuts of pork, except in the United States and Canada, where it tends to be prepared from the pork belly. Bacon may be eaten smoked, boiled, fried, or baked, and may be grilled and eaten on its own, used as a side dish, or used as a minor ingredient to add flavor to a variety of dishes. Of all the foods available on our planet, bacon may be the one that attracts the most passionate devotees.

“It’s kind of silly, actually,” Zahora continues when asked how the festival got started. “I was posting some pictures online on some of my Facebook pages, and I posted one on my Restaurant Raiders page that was a photo of a dog with three mixing bowls in front of him—I really love dogs, and I have three of them. Well, my nephews really love bacon, and so I posted the photo of this dog with a chef’s hat on, and the caption on it read, ‘My recipe calls for a cup of bacon, a quarter cup of bacon, and a pinch of bacon on top.’”

“So, I posted this photo on one of the Facebook pages I run,” she continues. “And then went away to do some other things. And when I returned to the page a half hour later the photo had been ‘liked’ 40-some times and shared 14 times, and I started thinking. My friends love bacon, my nephews love bacon—they’d eat it for every meal if you’d let them—so I looked around. At the time, there was only one bacon festival, the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines, Iowa. And so I called up a couple of local restaurants and asked them what they thought—actually, I said to them, ‘We’re going to partner with Fraze on this, but they don’t know it yet.’ So that’s what got the whole thing started, and it has just snowballed.”

The festival, which gives Miami Valley bacon lovers the opportunity to sample dishes from a variety of local restaurants, is a showcase of the many ways in which meals can be, as the Fraze website puts it, “baconated.” The gates open at 3 p.m. on the 21st, and a variety of bands provide musical accompaniments with the meals. The Flashback Band goes on at 3 p.m. to kick off Bacon Fest with classic rock hits dating from the ’70s forward, then the aptly-named The Fries Band takes the stage at 5 p.m. for a set of acoustic hits and tight vocal harmonies. Rounding out the day’s entertainment, Pennsylvania’s Michael Christopher Band brings their guitar-heavy, rock-edged country sound to the stage. They perform beginning at 7 p.m.

“We’re really excited about this year’s Bacon Fest,” Zahora continues. “We have 18 restaurants participating this year, I believe, and we have several new ones. Murray’s Pub and Grub will be there for the first time, and Salar is participating. Park City Club is going to be there, as well. We also have over a dozen restaurants returning from years past—for example, The Dock will be there. Amber Rose. Marion’s Pizza. The 1776 Grill. It’s just a really fun, popular festival.”

With good music, a great venue, and—above all—bacon taking the center stage as the prime ingredient, Bacon Fest 2016 promises to be a day to remember for local food lovers. Take a moment right now to put the Aug. 21 event on your calendar, and if I can offer you just one piece of advice…I’d get there early.

Bacon Fest 2016 will take place at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering Sunday, Aug. 21. Gates open at 3 p.m. Admission is free and all ages are welcome. No pets permitted. Limited supply of bacon. For more information, please visit fraze.com/bacon-fest-2016.


Tim Walker is 50 and a writer, DJ and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black t-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at TimWalker@DaytonCityPaper.com.


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Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black T-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at TimWalker@DaytonCityPaper.com

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