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Celebrating the versatility of bacon

By Staff | Oct 20, 2017

Hannah Garland, of Dixon, from left, Skylar Brazel, of Illinois;, and Sarah Steffen, of Ames, serve up bacon-wrapped cheese-filled jalapenos at the Bacon Expo 2017 held Oct.7 in Ames. The jalapenos were made by the horticulture club at Iowa State University.



AMES – Bacon is a versatile and popular meat, two of the many aspects of the pork product celebrated during the Bacon Expo 2017 on Oct. 7 at the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center, just south of the Iowa State University campus in Ames.

An annual event, the expo’s goal went beyond just offering people the chance to sample slices of bacon, said Megan Andersen, external communications tri-chair of the Bacon Expo.

“In addition to being a fun event for families in the Ames area, we really wanted to highlight the agricultural school in a positive light and provide an access point for the public to meet and talk with people in the ag industry,” she said.

Now in its fifth year, the expo has grown to include 15 vendors with attendance averaging between 1,200 to 1,300 people, Andersen said. All proceeds from the event are donated to a different nonprofit organization each year. This year the money generated from ticket sales was given to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, but in the past donations were made to groups such as the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation and the Learning Disabilities Association of America.

Additionally, all of the leftover bacon from the afternoon was given to Food at First, an Ames-based food pantry and free meal program that serves seven meals per week using food from local grocery stores and food services that would have otherwise been thrown away.

Vendors at the expo included restaurants and cupcakeries, as well as a variety of student interest groups. Among them was the Meat Interest Group.

“We are always interested in different ways to expose kids to the aspects of the animal industry and meat industry,” said group president Austin Egolf. “We go to events, take trips, tour facilities and talk with professionals. The idea is to get students thinking about a job in the meat industry.”

The group also takes part in industry research, as well as gets hands on experience in creating top-notch steaks, roasts and processed meats. In preparing for the Bacon Expo, Egolf said they partnered with the graduate students of the Meat Sciences Club to process their pork bellies and create flavors such as barbecue bacon and pumpkin spice bacon.

Once people had tried all the different bacons and bacon-inspired recipes, they could take part in games, participate in a question and answer session with family pork producers, learn about the farm to fork process and review displays showcasing farms in the past, as well as all the different products made from pigs.

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