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Bacon Bash set next weekend

September 5, 2019

What started out as a brainstorm in a saloon transformed into the largest free bacon festival in the nation, according to organizers of the event. The River Falls Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau will host the seventh annual Bacon Bash festival. Located in Heritage Park, the festival will take place on Saturday, Sept. 14, and Sunday, Sept. 15. 

The event is set to begin both days at 10 a.m., ending at 7 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday. According to Micha Bennett, the marketing and communications specialist for the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau, “This event started out thinking it was going to be small one day thing, but has turned into a weekend long festival that folks will travel hundreds of miles for and each year it becomes more well-known.”

Last summer, the festival saw over 10,000 attendees. There is no charge for admission, and Bennett said attendance is expected to be between 10,000-12,000 people. 

Bacon Bash will have 35 different bacon dishes from local and regional restaurants, vendors and food trucks. Some of the food options include bacon mac and cheese, bacon cheesecake and pig wings. 

There will also be a plethora of pig-themed activities. Bennett said, “People will be in costumes, there will be a giant corn box, like a sand box but with corn, for the kids and we’ll even have pig noses for sale. I love how despite differences, everyone can come together over food and a good time.”

Bennett noted that the festival is within walking distance from the UW-River Falls campus. “It will be a nice place to hang out and catch up now that school will be back in session soon.” Bennett added, “Students of legal drinking age can also enjoy the variety of local craft beer and wine we’ll be serving.”

Bacon Bash will have live music performed by The Everett Smithson Band, Little Wing, The Flannel Brothers, The Merryweathers and The Tommy Bentz Band.

One of the members of the original group that orchestrated Bacon Bash is Craig Hoffland, the owner of a local business called Our Town Has It. According to Bennett, Hoffland was tasked by the Chamber of Commerce to create a revenue generating event that would bring in tourists in the fall.

Hoffland and about fifteen other members met at Bo’s, now known as the Nutty Squirrel Saloon “to dream up something different to draw people to River Falls. No one in particular said it should be food related but then ‘bacon’ just kind of happened,” Bennett explained. 

“Terry McKay was also part of the Bacon Bash. Terry is part of RE/MAX Synergy Realty in town. She said they were looking for another event to drive business to River Falls. [. . .] She said the original group consisted herself and Craig, plus Damon Holter, Pat and Dan Nistler and Chris Blasius,” said Bennett. 

Partial funding for Bacon Bash will be brought in through food and beverage sales, as well as various sponsors of the event. Bennett explained, “This event is [also] partially funded by tourism dollars, which come from a tax that visitors pay when they stay at hotels.” 

Street parking  for the event will be available near the festival ground both on Main Street and on the side streets. Heritage Park parking lot and Maple Street Bridge will be closed off to make space for the event.

For more information on Bacon Bash, contact Micha Bennett at micha@rfchamber.com