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Chamber prepares for annual ‘Bacon Bash’

Macie Segebrecht, a previous Bacon Bash Kids' Cook-off Winner is shown. The Kids' Cook Off is one of many events set for this weekend's Bacon Bash. Photo Courtesy of the River Falls Chamber of Commerce.

The scent of bacon may linger around town this weekend, as the River Falls Chamber of Commerce gears up for its fifth annual Bacon Bash, set for Saturday, Sept. 16 -and Sunday, Sept. 17.

Chamber CEO Chris Blasius said the Bacon Bash is the nation's largest free bacon festival. She's expecting another big turnout this year.

"Last year we estimated between 10,000 and 12,000 people through the weekend," Blasius said.

The estimated number of visitors is similar. However, as the festival is free, it's difficult to keep track of numbers, Blasius said.

New this year

At 11 a.m. Saturday Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl will host a live broadcast from the Bacon Bash. Grumdahl, known as a "foodie" radio host from WCCO 830 FM, will broadcast her show "Off the Menu" live.

A new bacon and wine pairing event will take place on the main stage at 1 p.m. Saturday, according to Event and Membership Coordinator Marissa Ostern. Belle Vinez and 65 Vines will provide wines for the event. Food vendors are also bringing samples of their bacon-inspired dishes to be paired with local wines.

The Great American Cookoff Tour will return to the Bacon Bash. In the past they've had a large semi and food samples. New this year, Great American Cookoff barbecue experts will share some grilling tips and tricks twice during the festival: Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

This year's live music also includes four new bands:

• The Roe Family singers will perform at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. They've performed at the River Falls Roots and Bluegrass Festival many times.

• Chaunte Shayne, a River Falls High School graduate, will perform at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

• Back Channel Blues will close the day Saturday, playing 4:30-7 p.m.

• The Tommy Bentz Band will open the day Sunday, playing from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The food

"The most important part about the entire festival, of course, is the food. All bacon-inspired foods," Blasius said.

The festival will include more than 40 food items that will be showcased.

The 2017 featured foods and food vendors include:

• Big Guys BBQ Roadhouse with candied bacon

• Blue Collar Barbeque - "Belly Bites"

• Croix Valley Foods - "Pig Wings"

• Family Fresh Market - Loaded bacon potato soup

• Hog Wild BBQ - "Bacon cheese bombs"

• Jimmie's Old Southern BBQ Smokehouse - Sticky bacon bourbon pudding

• Lil Izzy's Snack Shack - Maple-glazed mini donuts with bacon sprinkles

• Mac's Café & Restaurant - "Bacon pineapple express"

• River Falls Knights of Columbus - Maple bacon funnel cake

• Sara's Tipsy Pies - Maple bacon Irish apple pie

• Smokey Treats BBQ - "Piggy pickles"

• Snappy Dog Salsa - Bacon-wrapped shrimp

• UWRF Falcon Foods - Bacon waffle with bourbon vanilla ice cream and bacon caramel sauce

• West Wind Supper Club - Wisconsin cider beer cheese and bacon soup with caramel corn

Other highlights

Some returning favorites from previous years include:

• The Everett Smithson Band will return to play 1:30-4 p.m. Sunday. The band wrote the song "Gimme Some Bacon," inspired by the Bacon Bash.

• The Pig calling / pig impersonation contests Saturday and Sunday

• Pet costume contest 1 p.m. Sunday

• Pig wing eating contest at noon Sunday

• Each day will start and end with "When Pigs Fly." During this event, plush pigs will be flung from the rooftop of Riverwalk Square.

• A kids' cook-off competition will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, with a 12 and under category and a 13-17 category. There is no fee to participate but those wanting to take part are asked to sign up online to ensure a spot in the contest.

• The World Food Championship cool off competition is set for noon Saturday. This year the Bacon Bash is a "preferred qualifier" event, so the winner will get a free entrance to compete in the World Food Championship in Orange Beach, Ala. The winner will also get a travel stipend.

• The second Car Cruze of the year is also set for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

You can find the full schedule of events online at riverfallsbaconbash.com or in the wrap-around in this paper.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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