The America Loves Bacon festival left no doubt: South Carolina loves bacon.
The first-ever touring bacon festival made a stop in Columbia last Saturday, bringing live music, cooking demonstrations and greasy novelty food items that put the State Fair to shame.
The festival took place in Carolina Walk Park and lasted the entire afternoon. Diehard bacon fans could pay extra to receive VIP tickets, giving them access to an extra hour and a half of bacon sampling, bacon T-shirts, bacon posters and more bacon merch.
“[Bacon] is an awesome food,” said Chef Brian Duffy, who gave a cooking demonstration at the festival, “because of the fact that it’s got fat, it’s got salt and it’s got all that good crunch and mouth-feel.”
Duffy, who has appeared on Spike’s reality show “Bar Rescue,” served as a judge in the bacon-eating competition, in which five people competed to see who could eat a pound of bacon in the smallest amount of time.
Despite his love of bacon, Duffy said he doesn’t dislike people who don’t eat it.
“I love a vegetarian! I was a vegetarian for six months on a bet,” Duffy said. “I landed in Dallas, Texas, immediately went to Lockhart (Smokehouse), got as much bacon and pork as I could get, and then threw up for three hours.”
Comedians like John Gibson and John-Michael Bond and bands like The Cheaters and Four 14 performed, and visitors each received five sampling tickets with admission to the festival to taste-test things like ghost pepper bacon, root beer bacon and bacon hoagies.
Duffy seemed to see America’s current love for bacon as a phase rather than a permanent phenomenon.
“We’ve got bacon-wrapped ribs, bacon that’s done with chocolate and bacon that’s done with salted caramel,” said Duffy. “I mean, it’s just an awesome trend.”