I don’t know where the capitalization of the “F” started, but apparently, somebody thinks that is the way it should now be presented. Originally, way back in nineteen hundred and ninety-three, its full, proper name was: “Baconfest: the semi-annual salute to the white man’s gluttony, and, your favorite pork product, and mine, BACON!” Start time: 8 p.m. Why mince? It worked. Tens of people saw my fliers (we were sooo analog in those days) in and around the student union at Florida State University (where I was studying theater), and people showed up to my apartment ready to do two things—drink beer and eat bacon. None were disappointed.
Joe, a stage manager, came over and saw me feverishly chugging New Castle from a red Solo cup as I cooked pound after pound of bacon myself in a 20” skillet on top of an electric range coil, and he came to my rescue. I was ten pounds in. “Let me cook for a while,” he said. The spirit of the event continues to manufacture ardent moments of communal cooperation like that to this day. Why? Because when you see someone doing something they enjoy, you can’t help but want a piece of it too. “Go sit down,” he smiled, “You’ve done enough here.” It still makes me smile.
There was a glass mayo jar full of bacon grease in my sink. That was the way Grandma did it. She used to save every glass jar that came into the house, fill it full of grease, and put it back in the refrigerator. I never fully understood why. I guess back in the Depression it made sense. Occasionally, I would see her plop out tablespoons of grease to make baked goods around the holidays, but other than that I don’t know where it all went. Rendered lard for your own consumption! Pppffft. To the landfill with Ye! But, somehow the glass jar seemed like the best means of transportation. Plus, if I need to blow the track off a Tiger tank as I ferret the garbage can to the street, I sure will be in luck. I’m never without my emergency C4. Thanks, unprecedented 100 year arms build-up. But, I digress, for that, indeed, is yet another festival.
The mood of the Original, trademarked, and copyrighted (not really) Baconfest was: You’ll get yours in a few minutes. Have a beer and everything will be fine. And it was. Nary a hassle, nor care in the world. Zero static. Friends came and went gleefully. It was just like a Saturday morning on a Saturday evening. Come get yourselves some breakfast children! Most important meal of the day. Pig out. There’s plenty. I still look at the world that way. There is plenty for everyone. We just allocate it poorly.
One keg and some twenty odd pounds of bacon later, it was clear I was onto something grand. I needed to use this idea for the forces of good and not evil. The mechanisms that shape our standards of convenience throughout First World economies are deeply rooted in racism, sexism, and elitism. Heavy. I know. So, why not make a festival that acknowledges the idiocy of our fine institutions, such as the Gestapo-like tactics of factory farming, the caste system, over-consumption, and pollution while edifying how irresponsible we all individually feel about their perpetuation. I wish it could be different, but it ain’t, so enjoy.
We kept a fairly strict semi-annual recurring Baconfest for the next few years with Baconfest II: Electric Boogaloo (still in Tallahassee). Soon I helped start Dad’s Garage, and in pretty short order we needed a fundraiser. It was all ready to go. Melony knew a contact over at Hormel that sent us 100 pounds of Black Label as a donation, and Baconfest III: The Search for Spock (rest your soul Leonard) had our electrical grid at 280 Elizabeth Street (rest your soul) totally maxed with every electric skillet and microwave oven we could borrow, desperately trying to keep up. We couldn’t, but the all you can drink beer made up for it. Fuck integrity, we had to get it to the people. We even tried to cook some in an iron skillet on a grill, which didn’t work well at all. The war with getting massive amounts of bacon cooked and distributed has remained an on-going problem. Never has so much, been owed to so many, by so many. Thanks to all who have ever cooked, donated, or helped in any way.
BaconFest 2015 will bare its ugly rear in a few short weeks. I’m reminded of the speech to Butch from Marsellus in Pulp Fiction:
For during the event, you may feel a slight twinge or nagging your thought preying at the edges of your mind. While I can’t tell you what that may be, exactly, I can tell you this event is about suffocating that inner voice under an avalanche of bacon and beer. Carpe Baconfest. Je Suis Baconfest.
When you make the “Change Everything for the Better Festival” I’ll totally help out… if I feel like it.
Founder of Baconfest