IN RECENT years, bacon has surged in popularity. It's always been a delicious staple for adding a certain flavor to food, but the love for the country's most beloved fried meat has escalated to a point where cities across the country are hosting days-long festivals to celebrate.
Thanks to the Savannah Waterfront Association, Savannah can join in on the fun.
The second annual Bacon Fest on River Street on September 4 and 5 returns for an even bigger and better celebration.
This year, Hormel is the title sponsor, which, SWA's executive director Carrie Bligh notes, is a huge honor.
"They had a small part last year and saw the potential, they loved what we did," she explains. "The interesting thing is that Hormel gets thousands of requests for sponsorship, but they only pick three to sponsor. We got picked as their east coast festival."
Along with lending their name to the festival, Hormel will bring a motorcycle that runs on bacon grease (don't ask us how) and provide samples of their Black Label bacon for everyone to try.
But it just wouldn't be a true bacon celebration if the only provided foods were measly samples. Twelve local restaurants, from Leopold's to Bayou Cafe, have created bacon-themed dishes specifically for the festival.
Newbie Treylor Park's presence in the festival is a given based on their trashy-classy food, and they'll be providing bacon chips with peach jam and a BLT with bacon in place of bread.
The foods that have been released early range from bacon chicken bombs to bacon cream soda ice cream float to bacon brownies, but Bligh promises more surprises await at the festival.
Every meal is represented, so a true bacon connoisseur could theoretically eat at the festival for two days straight.
The organizers know the heartbreak associated with being too full to eat more than two bacon-inspired entrees, so the plates this year will be more sample-size and priced in the five-dollar range.
"This way, people can hit all the tents, taste everything and not be stuffed after eating at just one," Bligh explains.
In the interest of community togetherness and just plain fun, the SWA likes to host themed events every month of the year. Some months, the theme is obvious — March gets St. Patrick's Day, December gets a holiday extravaganza, October even gets Oktoberfest and Halloween — but September is more open for interpretation.
"Last September, we had a football kickoff, which was both good and bad," remembers Bligh. "It So we said, 'Okay, we need to do something different. Let's do something with bacon.' And why not? Everyone loves bacon."
Bligh notes that the first Bacon Fest last year was a little small in terms of entertainment, but the turnout was big.
"The response to it was just amazing — people love bacon — but this year is bigger and better," she says.
If you'd rather cuddle and admire your pigs than eat them, the festival has you covered there, too. This year, the festivities include a giant mechanical pig to ride.
"Last year we tried to find a mechanical pig but couldn't, so we put a pig nose and ears on a mechanical bull," Bligh laughs. "But our events planning team eventually found one."
There's also a little piggy race in the works, where tiny mechanical pigs race around a custom-built racetrack for prizes, and a great kids area.
For fans of the pigskin (pun absolutely intended), Bud Light's two-story Build-a-Bar will make an appearance and show Saturday's college football games on the attached TVs.
In perfect serendipity, live music will be provided Saturday night by the Atlanta-area 80s cover band The Breakfast Club.
"We hadn't done an 80s cover band and thought that would be fun, so when we saw the name, we were like, that's perfect," Bligh explains.
"We had our fingers crossed that they were good, and they are!"
Across the river, the Savannah Craft Brew Fest will be in full swing all day Saturday, and the trusty ferry system can connect the two.
"It's gonna be a great weekend if you like bacon and beer," Bligh says. "It's one of our favorite events because we all love bacon."
The Bacon Fest's hours are Friday from 4-10 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.-10 p.m.