Bacon wrapped dream comes true


Mark Williams competes in the bacon-eating contest at the Bacon Expo on Saturday, Oct. 19. Williams won the male event and has competed in 18 food eating competitions.

Caitlin Deaver

After warming bacon since 6 a.m., overseeing bacon festivities for four people-packed hours and being interviewed countless times, Jake Swanson, Bacon Expo chairman, sat down for the first time that Saturday in quiet amazement.

Having pitched the idea of an Iowa State Bacon Expo, which was held on Oct. 19, back in February, Swanson and his 60-member committee planned the event over the last six months.

“Being the first [student-powered] Bacon Expo, too many things could’ve gone wrong, but they didn’t,” said Kristin Liska, co-chairwoman of the ISU Bacon Expo and senior in animal science.

Swanson, who is also president of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Student Council, said one of the only things he would change about the event was the weather, which was cold and drizzly.

“With any first-year event, there will be obstacles to overcome,” Swanson said. “Trying to coordinate so many vendors and making sure they’re licensed is a challenge.”

Putting together a vendor packet that met the requirements of the Iowa State Risk Management office was the biggest obstacle.

“It was tough because we didn’t know the exact number of vendors a couple weeks ago,” Swanson said.

The Bacon Expo had 22 vendors and various student clubs. Each vendor offered unique bacon items.

“It [was] a really great time,” said Jill Martin, one of the Scratch Cupcakery vendors who had bacon cupcakes. “I’ve had lots of fun handing out cards and cupcakes. I’d definitely come back next year [for Bacon Expo 2014].”

The vendors weren’t the only ones pleased with the outcome.

Blurring the lines of rivalry, both Cyclone and Hawkeye fans came together for their shared love of bacon. Cardinal and gold, as well as black and gold, could be seen throughout the crowd.

“This is a great event,” said Denise Fuegen, University of Iowa fan, from Muscatine, Iowa. “My favorites are the BBQ bacon and the bacon cupcakes.”

Iowa State students also came out to satisfy their hunger for bacon.

“The food is delicious,” said Sarah Pearce, ISU graduate assistant in animal science. “I love bacon and this event.”

The first bacon event was the “How Do You Wear Your Bacon?” fashion show. Teams were to design and construct a wardrobe out of raw bacon.

“When I first heard about the Bacon Expo, I was really excited,” said Sara Kinderknecht, ISU Fashion Show co-producer and senior in apparel, merchandising and design. “We combined food and fashion, two of my favorite things, into a fashion show.”

The bacon fashion show was a partnership between the ISU Bacon Expo and The Fashion Show 2014. This collaboration began when Swanson contacted Kinderknecht, to invite The Fashion Show 2014 to be part of the expo.

The bacon-themed fashion show was inspired by Lady Gaga’s 2011 Franc Fernandez meat dress.

Each team could use 10 pounds of Hormel and Corn King bacon and had a little over an hour to complete their designs. Other materials, such as hot glue and fishing line, were available, too.

Two teams signed up for the fashion show.

One team was composed of Braiddey Ruzicka, junior in industrial design, and Kellen Gorman, freshman in pre-architecture and model.

Gorman modeled a bacon-covered hat, tie and suspenders, a bacon handkerchief and a bacon-wrapped cane.

“Wearing raw bacon [was] definitely a new experience,” Gorman said.

Gorman and Ruzicka used five pounds of bacon for their wardrobe.

The other team included Jacob Duncan, senior in architecture, Brandt Shumacher, 2011 graduate, and Shelby Duncan, model and freshman in apparel, merchandising and design.

Shelby modeled a bacon skirt and blouse. Her outfit used four-and-a-half pounds of bacon.

Both outfits, combined, totaled out to a little more than one-third of a pig.

The next event was the bacon-eating contest. Ten men and 10 women took to the tables, supplied with bacon and multiple glasses of water.

Both the male and female divisions had two heats to narrow down eight competitors for the one-minute eat-off.

For women, each heat required them eating half a pound of bacon to go on to the eat-off. For men, each heat required three-quarters of a pound of bacon to be consumed.

The winner in the female division was Allison Mettler, a third-year veterinary medicine student.

“[Eating bacon] was tasty, but definitely a challenge,” Mettler said. “I’d much rather [eat competitively] against my brothers.”

The winner in the male division was Mark Williams, resident of Marshalltown, Iowa, and a competitive eater.

By the end of the event, 1,076 of a total 1,200 ticket-holders attended. The total money collected, said Karl Kerns, senior in animal science and committee member, is not available yet, as part of the money went to the Scheman Building. Swanson said part of the profit would go to charity.

The Bacon Expo committee also doesn’t know the total amount it cost to put on the event, as they’re waiting for figures from ISU Dining and Scheman.

The committee also cooked 1,200 pounds of bacon for the expo. They were all safety-certified. 24 hours were put into cooking of the bacon and 30 gallons of grease were produced.

Swanson said he is 98 percent sure there will be another ISU Bacon Expo.

“No one left hungry,” Swanson said. “The overall greatest success was putting together a great team to represent CALS [College of Agriculture and Life Sciences]. Next year will be bigger and better and will only continue to improve.”