What kind of event sells 12,000 tickets in 42 minutes, with ticket-holders in 41 states and countries as far away as Brazil, China, Denmark and Puerto Rico? Nope, not Justin Bieber. Not even Beyonce. It’s the annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, and it happens right here in Des Moines, Iowa.
Now in it’s seventh year, ‘BaconFest’ (as it is affectionately coined) has become as much a staple holiday as it is a food group to many of its most devoted fans. This year’s BaconFest staff expect around 13,000 bacon enthusiasts in attendance – and when we say bacon enthusiasts, we mean it.
Each year, BaconFest is produced by the fabulous team at In Any Event, a full-service event planning company in Des Moines. “In Any Event started about ten years ago,” says Mindy Toyne, Owner of In Any Event and Event Director for the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival. “Our first event was Des Moines’ Oktoberfest. Since then, large scale public events have become our company’s core focus.”
The Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival was born when the original founders (now dubbed the ‘Bacon Board’) sat down with Toyne over a happy afternoon of drinks and brainstorming to hammer out the concept: a festival to celebrate Iowa beer, Iowa bacon and general buffoonery. “It was pretty popular that first year,” says Toyne, “and the next year it doubled in size.”
The Bacon Board continued organizing the event on their own until it became so large that In Any Event needed to jump back in, this time with VolunteerLocal in their toolbox. “We’re able to partner with VolunteerLocal to fill crucial jobs and shifts during our major events,” Toyne explains. “A lot of times our needs from a staffing standpoint can’t be provided through an internal structure, which is what makes volunteers so important to us.”
For Toyne and the entire Bacon Board, however, it’s about more than just the bacon. It’s about improving the quality of life for Central Iowans, supporting local farmers and building that sense of camaraderie in the Midwest. “Many of these events have charity components to them as well,” adds Toyne. “BaconFest is one that gives a considerable amount of money to a handful of charities every year.”