Who would have thought that love for a meat product could bring about a festival dedicated to it? That’s the reality of the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival at the Iowa Event Center at 730 3rd St., Des Moines. In 2001, a group of people used their annual weekend retreat as an opportunity to enjoy and celebrate bacon.
By 2008, that “Iowa Bacon Board” led by Iowa realtor Brooks Reynolds, had organized a world premiere festival: Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival. In 2008, a mere smattering of people turned up to celebrate, around 200. In 2009, another hundred would appear.
However, by 2010, all 600 tickets had sold out in half an hour, and over 30,000 bacon strips were sold. By 2011, it took four minutes to sell out of 1,500 tickets. The festival’s future was sealed.
In recent years, the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival is an annual event that brings around 14,000 people to Des Moines, Iowa, every year. It’s a festival of food you don’t want to miss. It celebrates all things bacon, with competitions, bacon eating competitions, food, beverages, and more.
If you’re trying to shake away the winter blues, then this event can help you do just that. Could it be time for a winter RV adventure? Gather a group of friends over the age of 21, work up a bacon hunger, and hit the road for Des Moines.
Can you really put a price on bacon? Apparently so, and you won’t want to miss out on the hot-in-demand tickets for the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival. Check out the organizer’s website for updated pricing and schedules. In past years, early bird tickets have come with a goody bag.
Otherwise, your ticket gains you entry and access to music, entertainment, and even unlimited bacon samples. General admission tickets may run you about $30. Group tickets are also available for around $650.
The beauty of the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival being at the Iowa Events Center is its proximity to main highways. I-235 runs adjacent to the venue, linking on to I-80, I-35, and minor highways as well. These well-maintained roads make for a smooth driving experience.
However, you will need to take care as temperatures at this time of year can plummet. Watch out for ice and snow, and allow plenty of time for both traffic and adverse wintry weather.
Given the central location of the Iowa Event Center, parking spots are plentiful. You can take advantage of the main parking lot across the road from the event center, or paid parking further down Crocker Street. There is no guarantee that RV day parking will be available, so you may like to make yourself comfortable at your campsite and public transportation or arrange for a private ride service to pick you up and take you back again.
Central Iowa is full of different transportation options to get you to and from the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival. Bus services run at regular intervals around Crocker Street and 6th Avenue, and there are also many different private ride services as well. Some travelers prefer to download the latest apps to have the best transport option at your fingertips.
Onsite camping isn’t an option for the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to stay in Des Moines overnight. This bustling city is home to many different campgrounds and facilities. Remember to book in advance to improve your chances of getting your first pick, as thousands of people will also be looking for a place to stay.
Within a 20-mile radius of the Iowa Event Centre, there are dozens of RV parks, resorts, campgrounds, and parks. These all boast multiple service hookups, including full electricity and water supplies – or nothing at all if that’s your preference. Once you park for the night, you can arrange for a ride service to bring you into the city center, or talk to your host about other transportation options.
Even though the Iowa Event Center is a spacious facility, it’s not one that will require anything other than your own feet to navigate. Once you arrive at the festival, you can wander around each area, sitting down if you need to take a break. The comfortable facility is one that will not be tiresome to be in from the opening of the event until it closes.
It’s not uncommon for the temperatures to go no higher than negative figures, which means you’ll need to pack warm. Rug up for your RV journey, but also pack plenty of sweaters, thick socks, beanies, and gloves, for your trip around Iowa. Once you’re in the Iowa Event Center, however, a warm cardigan and pants may fit the mostly indoor setting.
You won’t need to bring all that much to the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, because organizers make it an event that requires very little. Bring your ticket, ID, and an empty stomach. There is a lot of bacon on offer that’s waiting for your seal of approval. You may also like to bring both cash and credit to ensure that if anything takes your fancy, you have the means to purchase it.
The biggest thing to concern yourself with is possibly the weather. Temperatures can plummet in February, and cities are a breeding ground for colds and the flu. Bring any medication from home that you might need, plenty of water, and a pocket pack of tissues if the cold weather brings on a runny nose. There are restrooms located within the venue for your convenience.
Each campsite in Iowa and further afield will have its own set of rules and regulations. Before you haul out the charcoal grill, have a quick chat with your host to find out what they allow. In most cases, you’ll be able to use your onboard RV gas cooker at a minimum.
While you may not feel like cooking bacon after a full day at the festival, the local supermarkets will have plenty of other goodies to choose for your RV shelves. There are a few grocery and convenience stores within a 15-minute drive of the Event Center that will have what you need.
If you intend on staying in Iowa to make the most of your RV vacation, then you’ll be astounded at the number of eateries in the area. Hearty food is present on the menu in this neck of the woods during winter, but fast food outlets are plentiful as well. Take a leisurely drive around Des Moines and see what you can find that appeals to all.
There will be a few different vendors at the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, with bacon a highlight in pretty much all of them. You’re at a bacon festival, after all. Your admission ticket includes being able to sample many different types of bacon, but some vendors charge for goods. Make sure you have cash and credit to avoid missing out on the best food available.
There will be a security presence at the Iowa Event Center due to the sheer volume of visitors throughout the full day of the festival. If you want to make sure you make a quick entry, pack light, and have your ticket and ID at the ready.
If you have any concerns or queries during your stay in Iowa, you can approach a security official or visit the police station. The Des Moine Police Department is a short half-mile trek from the Event Center.
One word will sum up the weather conditions in Iowa during the Bacon Festival: cold. Negative temperatures are consistent throughout the day, with it unlikely to get any warmer than around 40 degrees. Make sure your RV has plenty of coolant and that you’ve packed warm blankets for the journey. Keep your weather app handy so that you’re aware of any weather conditions that may impact your visit to the area.
An injury or accident can put a dampener on any holiday, but it doesn’t have to. If you know where to access medical supplies and expert help, you’ll be back to your old self in no time. There is a medical center within a three-mile drive of the venue and a pharmacy within a five-minute drive.