On a burger, deep fried on a stick, coating a marshmallow, covered in chocolate, mixed in a milkshake — bacon was front and center in all of its forms Saturday at Portage's Bacon Fest.
The festival marked its fifth year of swine celebrations filling Founder's Square Park with a myriad of food trucks, specialty vendors, family activities, live music and, of course, everything bacon.
Amy Armstrong, the festival director, said City Point Church organizes and sponsors Bacon Fest every year as a chance for the community to gather around fun and good grub. She said by day's end, they expect 10,000 attendees to visit the event.
“We love the city of Portage, we also love bacon,” Armstrong said.“Every year it gets bigger. This park is such a perfect place for it, too, with Hannah's Hope playground, the splash pad and the amphitheater. It's just a great location.”
City Point Church in Portage set up a stand called “Kiss the Pig,” where donation buckets were set up under the name and photo of four prominent Portage community members, from city officials to organization leaders. The person who's bucket accrued the most cash had to land a smooch on Bacon fest's honorary swine. The lucky pig was 4-week-old Red, who was the runt of the litter.
Alyson Cox, youth leader at City Point Church, said the funds will help fuel the many youth-centered activities at the church, like a winter retreat.
Vendors had to pull out their culinary creativity in incorporating bacon in their dishes. New Life Church of God in Portage went through more than 90 pounds of bacon, which they deep-fried on a stick offering various toppings like cinnamon, chocolate and powdered sugar. Along with a variety of food vendors, Toasty Cheese food truck offered duck bacon and Skyline Snowie offered bacon-flavored cotton candy.
“The fest always evolves year to year, but it will always be centered around bacon,” Armstrong said. “There's deep-fried bacon on a stick, bacon cotton candy — they're always thinking of fun ways to do bacon.”