Inaugural Bacon Expo sizzles with ‘incredible success,’ sets stage for 2014


The people test different kinds of bacon during Bacon Expo 2013.

Caitlin Deaver

Despite a cold and drizzly start on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 19, the clouds soon parted and the sun cast its rays upon the inaugural Iowa State Bacon Expo, the first student-powered bacon event in the nation.

“The Bacon Expo [was] a great way for the students to demonstrate leadership and management skills,” said Wendy Wintersteen, an attendee of the event and dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Organizing an event like this, getting sponsors and selling out tickets in two days really shows that — you can tell by looking at the crowd.”

The College of Agriculture was one of the many sponsors for the Bacon Expo, with Elanco and Iowa Select Farms, among others

The four-hour event in the Scheman courtyard at Iowa State Center offered various bacon products from 22 different vendors from around Iowa. These products ranged anywhere from bacon cookies and cupcakes to jalapeno bacon poppers and barbecue bacon.

The 60-member Bacon Expo committee also asked different agricultural clubs to attend the event, allowing Bacon Expo participants to learn about Iowa State and the College of Agriculture.

Student clubs, such as Block and Bridle, Collegiate FFA, Rodeo Club, Ag Business Club, Student Federation of Agriculture and Collegiate 4-H, to name a few, represented the college at the event.

Two fraternities, Alpha Gamma Rho and Beta Theta Pi, and a sorority, Sigma Alpha, also were in attendance.

“For it being the first-ever Bacon Expo, I’m pleased for its first crowd,” said ISU President Steven Leath. “Despite the weather, people seem to [have enjoyed] it.”

Approximately an hour later, the “How Do You Wear Your Bacon?” fashion show, which was inspired by Lady Gaga’s meat dress, commenced on the outdoor stage.

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

Before taking to the stage, though, two teams had an hour to create their completely raw-bacon outfits. Teams could have two or three members.

One of the teams was composed of Braiddey Ruzicka, junior in industrial design, and Kellen Gorman, Bacon Expo model and freshman in pre-architecture. Gorman wore a bacon-covered hat, tie and suspenders, had a bacon handkerchief and held a bacon-wrapped cane. They used super glue as the adhesive.

The other team included Shelby Duncan, Bacon Expo model and freshman in apparel, merchandising and design, and Jacob Duncan, senior in architecture.

“It was an interesting experience,” Shelby said. “I was cold and felt like Lady Gaga most of the time.”

Both models won the competition, receiving tickets to the annual ISU Fashion Show and the 2014 Bacon Expo.

The Bacon Expo also featured a bacon-eating contest. There were 20 participants, 10 males and 10 females.

There were two “heat”-rounds for both men and women, putting the top eight bacon-consumers in the final round, a minute-long eat-off. Whoever ate the most bacon in that one minute would win the competition.

Allison Mettler, third-year student in veterinary medicine, won for the women, and Mark Williams, resident of Marshalltown, Iowa, and a competitive eater, won for the men.

Both received a crown, certificate of accomplishment and a Hy-Vee gift card.

Dance Marathon performed the Morale Dance on stage afterward, showcasing another organization of Iowa State.

By the end of the first-ever student-run Bacon Expo at Iowa State, at least 1,076 ticket holders had appeared. Originally, a strict cap of 1,200 tickets went on sale Sept. 6 and sold out within 48 hours.

“[Saturday] was an incredible success,” said Jake Swanson, found of the Iowa State Bacon Expo and senior in global resource systems. “Just seeing people coming to the event was worth it.”

The Bacon Expo organizers expect the event to return in 2014 to feed another batch of people hungry for bacon.

“The love of bacon is unwavering,” Swanson said.