Bacon festivals have been gaining in popularity all over the globe. As bacon becomes more and more of a cultural force, capturing the hearts and minds as well as the tongues and bellies of intelligentsia and common folk alike, gatherings celebrating the wonder of bacon are becoming more and more popular. We’re written before about the various bacon festivals that are beginning to make a splash in the Canadian scene, but even these extravaganzas are nothing compared to the bacon parties they throw down south.

The greatest of these American bacon celebrations is the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, which took place this past Saturday on February 18th 2012. The party, which takes places in Des Moines, Iowa, is being celebrated for the fifth time at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

The festival has come a long way from its humble beginnings five years ago, when only 200 dedicated bacon fans came to celebrate the wonder of bacon. This year, tickets sold out in mere minutes, and record crowds packed the fairgrounds, with over 4700 tickets sold and the corresponding number of fans showing up to party it up bacon-style.

The theme of this year’s festival was “Baconpocalypse Now: I Love The Smell of Bacon in the Morning,” and fair-organizers did their best to make the bacon events – and delicious bacon foods – suitably fantastic to match the intense and apocalyptic theme. In addition to such pro-bacon lectures as “Zombies, Bacon and Survival,” attendees were treated to unlimited samples of delicious bacon dishes and even a bacon-eating contest.

For the first time, however, there were some dissenting voices to be heard in the crowd, and the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival had to contend with protesters for the first time in its tenure. A group of vegetarian doctors handed out pamphlets detailing the potential health detriments to over-indulging in bacon. They billed themselves as the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and were forced to remain behind police barricades during the festival. In response, several festival attendees donned white lab coats and walked around calling themselves the Physicians Committee for Ridiculous Meat-eating.

Despite some murmurs, the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival was an unqualified success, and organizers in Iowa are already planning how to make next year’s festival even bigger – and more bacon-rich – next year.