Columbus brought home the bacon this past Friday. Columbus Commons, located downtown, held the first-ever Ohio Bacon Fest, attracting local food trucks and vendors along with some local and state breweries.
Ohio State’s Buckeye Barbeque Club even got in on the action, lining up its fourth annual Bacon Day to match the city’s festival.
Buckeye Barbeque Club is one of the top five largest student organizations on campus and was featured once on “The Colbert Report,” said Roland Hatcher, club president and third-year in music education.
Hatcher and his fellow grill jockeys turned Bacon Day from a small idea into one of the biggest club events on campus, attracting nearly 150 students every year for the bacon day cookout.
“We really just started tossing this idea around as a joke,” Hatcher said. “One day we were just like ‘hey this is actually a really good idea.’ And ever since then this event has become one of our biggest successes. Besides, it’s all about bacon. Who doesn’t love bacon?”
The menu included inside out bacon burgers, bacon baked beans and even chocolate dipped bacon. Hatcher’s personal favorite item was a hotdog wrapped in bacon.
But not just OSU students celebrated pig this weekend. In the heart of downtown Columbus, a teeming hub of bacon lovers pulsated with music, beer, bacon and bacon-inspired foods.
Food trucks and vendors were primarily from the Columbus area, with the exception of Great Lakes Brewing Company from Cleveland.
Local meat makers like Meat Made Simple, a family business from Columbus that’s been in the business of meat and sausage making since 1903, were the backbone of the event. Their contribution to the festival was a family invented bacon enhancer that they simply call Bacon Dust.
“See what you do is after you cook your bacon and you’re getting ready to eat it you just sprinkle some of our Bacon Dust on it and we guarantee that you will have better bacon,” Rich Theil, co-owner, said.
Since over 1,200 people came through the family’s tent, their invention seemed to be catching on well. Their “Free Bacon (No, Really)” sign in front of their tent might have helped too.
The festival fostered a sense of community among attendees.
“It’s just got a real kind of patriotic vibe to it. I mean, we came for the bacon, obviously, but also the community. The networking. We also appreciate the focus on local businesses,” said Kyle Tomlin of Delaware, Ohio, who was in attendance with his girlfriend Kelly Rivera.
The couple had bought tickets almost a month and a half in advance and found the event to be very true to the Columbus community.
“This just doesn’t happen everywhere … we’re a tight city and events like this really prove that,” Tomlin said.
As the night wore on at the festival, bands from Columbus took the stage and played to the sounds of bacon frying, kids laughing and friends sharing a night that revolved around an edible phenomena that has become common in almost every restaurant, fast food joint and home kitchen in America. One of the most commonly heard things at the festival was the phrase “Who doesn’t like bacon?”
From the turnout of the festival to the backyard barbecue pit that OSU Buckeye Barbeque Club held, it seemed that bacon had indeed transcended from food to phenomenon.
Editor’s note: This article was updated on Sept. 29 to correct the spelling of Kelly Rivera’s name.