Bacon Expo draws crowds of bacon enthusiasts; educates attendees about pork industry


The ISU Meat Science Club was represented by first-year graduate students in meat science Kelsey Carlson, left, and Emily Usinger and Jennifer Levey, junior in animal science. The Iowa State Bacon Expo was held from 1-5 p.m. on Nov. 8 at the Hansen Agricultural Student Learning Center.

Chrissy Dittmer

The parking lots were full. The lines were buzzing. The second annual Bacon Expo brought in a crowd.

The event took place on the afternoon of Nov. 8 at the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center, where visitors had the opportunity to learn about the pork industry, see entertainment and, of course, sample bacon.

“Since this is our second annual Bacon Expo, we have had a lot better attendance than last year,” said Shelby Fields, security committee member.

Fields added that they saw a large spike in ticket sales from community members, rather than students.

“That makes us look awesome as a student body,” she said. “Educating people and giving them hands on experience is great.”

Visitors started the event with a video explaining the role the pork industry plays in feeding a growing global population with an increasing demand for animal protein. A statistic in the video quoted “by the year 2050 the world will need a 50 percent increase in pork products.”

This set a tone of education to the show that some visitors were not expecting.

“We thought we’d just eat some bacon, but we’re learning all about pork production,” said Katharine Suski, a visitor attending with her husband Roger, and daughters Anna and Ella.

The Suskis, who bought their tickets as soon as they heard about the event, were surprised at how well it was organized.

“For a student run event, this is incredible,” Katharine said.

Teresa Bjork and Kristi Steinkamp, visitors and self-proclaimed fans of bacon, returned to the show this year for similar reasons. The family friendly atmosphere helped set this event apart from other bacon events, Bjork said.

“Also, we remembered the cupcakes,” Steinkamp said, referring to the bacon cupcakes served at the expo.

Though families enjoyed the event, royalty paid a visit as well.

Elizabeth Glover, 2014 Iowa State Fair Queen, made an appearance at the expo at the request of the Iowa State Fair Board. As a 4-H member, Glover said she is familiar with animals and projects, but enjoyed learning about the pork industry.

“I had no idea what to expect,” she said, “but I have been definitely learning more about the pork industry and how it impacts Iowa and the world.”

The education system at Bacon Expo was also set up using a punch-card system, Lexi Delaney, committee member, said. There were four stations, each with its own subject. 

They included gestation, farrowing, nursery and finishing, and at each station, visitors could get a punch. Once all four holes were punched, attendees could turn their cards in to be entered in a raffle.

A stage at the event also hosted a meat fabrication working display, a bacon-eating contest and the finals for Bacon Voice.

Luke Schneeman, junior in mechanical engineering, and Jacob Kottke, senior in mathematics, said they got involved in the bacon-eating contest through a friend who recommended it.

“We’ve been mentally preparing,” Schneeman said.

They added that they have tried drinking lots of water to expand their stomachs, and looked up more food eating contest tips online.

“We’re probably going to take this too far,” Kottke said, “but that’s what this is all about!”

The winner of the bacon-eating contest was Jared Wellik, sophomore in agricultural studies.