More than twice the number of expected attendees descended upon Bacon Fest in Dayton, Ohio, this past Sunday, causing vendors to deplete their bacon supply much earlier than intended and deprive people of the precious pork product.
Participating vendors were ill-equipped Sunday as organizers estimated that 10,000 people would show up for the free inaugural event, held in Dayton’s Fraze Pavilion. What the festival organizers received, however, was an army of bacon lovers 25,000-strong, hungry for bacon and peanut butter and banana sandwiches (the “Fat Elvis”), bacon and watermelon skewers, and ice cream sundaes with chocolate bacon topping, among others.
"We will learn from our mistakes and every year get a little bit better with it," said event organizer Shannon Morgan, who also works as president of the Miami Valley Restaurant Association, which put on the event.
Not all responses were so subdued, however. Soon after the event, participants took to the Bacon Fest Facebook page to voice their complaints. One particularly heated festival-goer bemoaned the event’s shoddy organization, exclaiming that “whoever ran/organized this atrocious piece of garbage should be fired and probably imprisoned.”
“You arrive to the festival to find that instead of utilizing the whole venue, they have roped it off into one small area,” wrote Richard Michael Sorrell, expressing skepticism over the festival’s system of “bacon bucks” – redeemable meal vouchers – that people had to throw away once the food ran out.
According to Sorrell, organizers “manned [the festival] with TSA wannabes to check your bags and make sure that you don't mean harm to the other 90,000 miserable people there who are ready to shoot someone because they can't find anyone to sell their ‘bacon bucks’ to.”
Sixteen locally owned restaurants participated in Bacon Fest, offering a specialty dish for anywhere between $3 and $6. Owner of Dayton’s Brixx Ice Company, Chris Bhai, said the toll of slinging Fat Elvises for hours had carried over into Monday. There could have been 10 additional restaurants present at the festival serving twice the amount of food, Bhai added.
“There are some people who were not happy, I know it, I heard it, I felt it,” he told the Dayton Daily News. “We didn’t know what to expect. If we all brought 5,000 tastings (each) and 10,000 people showed up, we all would have lost money.”
Meanwhile, John Forman, the owner of Bullwinkle’s Top Hat Bistro in Miamisburg, found fault in the event’s location. He expressed surprise that the venue wasn’t able to hold all the people – not to mention the seemingly endless lines that snaked throughout the event.
Fraze and Miami Valley have already made plans for a 2014 Bacon Fest, for which they welcome critiques and suggestions, and emphasize that eliminating congestion will be one of next year’s top priorities.
“I don’t think other vendors knew what to expect,” said Forman, adding that some lines were two hours long. “They will be ready next year, you can be sure about that.”
Still, some bacon aficionados were seriously turned off by the event’s scarcity, pointing out that long wait times even managed to override the eventual sensation of chowing down.
“Waited in line for over 45mins in line & still not being able to eat anything! Whoever put this together/organized this event, should start looking for a new career,” said Facebook user John N Kori Anderson. “Thought I would never say this, but this bacon put a bad taste in our mouths!”