On Saturday I went to the first Festival of Bacon here in Orlando. According to their website, “This festival is where event goers enjoy bacon inspired treats from Central Florida’s top restaurants, live music from local acts, bacon beverages, and other family friendly entertainment. We will boast 30+ top bacon chefs creating bacon-inspired samples, and competing to win the coveted “Best of Bacon” award. We anticipate on distributing over 5,000 pounds of bacon to a crowd of more than 2,000 bacon lovers who will travel far and wide to sink their teeth into dozens of delectable paid and free samples.”
It was going to be a hot day in Orlando with a chance of rain, so I decided to head out towards the beginning of the event. It started at 11 am and I got there around 11:30. There were a LOT of parking issues. I got there only 30 minutes after it opened and the free parking they were bragging about was completely full. I ended up parking at a nearby shopping center and hoping that I didn’t get a ticket or towed (neither happened).
When I drove by the entrance when I first got their the lines to get in were insane. But by the time I parked and got back there they were fine. If you had gotten your tickets ahead of time it was easy to get in – no wait at all. I got in free due to a Yelp hook up, so I can’t complain about the pricing. I know it was $25 or $35 if you bought your ticket ahead of time and that included $10 in bacon bucks to spend. I still got the bacon bucks so I was happy about that. At the end of the day I would have been okay with the price as long as I had bought my ticket ahead of time and gotten the $10 in bacon bucks. I can understand why people paying at the door were unhappy. If you bought your ticket the day of it was more expensive and you DIDN’T get the $10 in bacon bucks.
There were plenty of tents with different vendors, but I really expected more samples with the price of admission. The website talked about “30+ top bacon chefs creating bacon-inspired samples” but I only saw things for sale at the tents. Other than the “free bacon sample” tents on the one side there weren’t any other samples. Thankfully the long lines at the bacon sample tents went fast and the bacon was tasty. I did hear that later in the day the lines for the samples were even worse and they were running out. Some folks had to stand there while they cooked more bacon.
If you wanted something to eat you had to bust out your bacon bucks. Even the tents where you had to pay for food had really really long lines. They did have plenty of places to get a drink so I was happy about that. I actually got a drink as soon as I got there since I knew that eventually I would be standing in a long line.
The food I did get was fabulous, so that was good. A lot of different options that ranged for $1 on up, so you could make your $10 go a ways if you tried. For food I decided to try the BLT Biscuit from The Smiling Bison. It was a bacon fat biscuit with fried pork belly, tomato jam, bacon vinaigrette, and bacon mayo. It was DELISH but on the small side. I expected a little bit more after a long wait in line and spending my last 4 bacon bucks.
A couple random things about the event…. plenty of places to wash your hands, but I had a hard time finding garbage cans. People later in the day said that the garbage cans they did find were in serious need of being emptied. The only real place to sit was a tent on one side of the grounds, no where on the other side where most of the food was. WAY more shade is needed if they are going to keep it this time of year – it was SO hot. Entertainment was good and you could hear it on either side of the grounds. Handing out a map of where vendors are at the gate would be SUPER helpful. I heard lots of people wondering where particular stuff was and getting frustrated when they couldn’t find it.
The idea for the event was great but it definitely needs some help for next year. I think they can swing it if they read all the reviews (check out Yelp folks) and take the suggestions & comments into consideration 🙂