Bacon. Delicious on its own and capable of enhancing both savory and sweet dishes alike, this tasty piece of pork is at the top of my list for most versatile foods—but that’s just one Bacon Queen’s opinion! What I can say for certain is that during my reign, I learned that not only does bacon tie together an entire meal, but it can also bring people together from all over the world. Here are five examples of how this is exemplified.
1. Bacon Celebration
If you are from Iowa, you’ve heard of the biggest bacon party the state has to offer: the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival. A day with thousands of my closest bacon-loving friends, the annual festival celebrates Iowa abundance and a seemingly all-American staple. But as the event has grown, it’s been made clear that bacon is more than just an Iowa thing, and the “all-American” food is loved internationally!
2. Spreading Bacon Love
The Iowa Bacon Board’s mission is to improve the enjoyment of all things bacon for “everyone, everywhere, all of them.” (Read PORK editor JoAnn Alumbaugh’s article that affirms the importance of bacon). And they are serious! The festival has expanded to include an Iowa-wide “BACooN” bicycle ride, a family-friendly festival in the Colorado mountains, and it has even reached our Viking friends to the north (no, not Minnesota!) in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Allison Schafer served as the 2016 Bacon Queen
3. International Bacon Bond
This theme of International Bacon Fellowship was made most clear to me at the first-ever Japan Bacon Festival. The festival was held in Des Moines’s sister-city of Kofu, the capital city of Yamanashi Prefecture in Japan. Although a bacon festival in Japan seems unexpected, there is a beautiful story that connects Iowa, Japan, and bacon.
The Japan Bacon Festival was inspired by a historic humanitarian effort that took place in 1960. After two typhoons devastated one of Japan’s own agricultural regions, the agricultural sector in Iowa responded with the “Iowa Hog Lift.” Iowa farmers flew 36 hogs and 100,000 bushels of corn to Yamanashi in order to help with the relief effort. Fast-forward 57 years, and a bond initiated by the sharing of pigs is strengthened with the sharing of bacon.
4. Acts of Bacon Kindness
By far my most powerful experience as the 2016 Bacon Queen was during the welcome reception preceding the Japan Bacon Festival. In my sash and crown, I fought back tears as I watched a video detailing the Iowa Hog Lift and the history between two cities on opposite sides of the globe. Thanks to an act of kindness and connections made nearly 60 years ago, a girl from small-town Iowa is helping strengthen international relationships in Japan as a Bacon Queen! A lot of people joke, “when pigs fly!” and that’s exactly what happened.
5. Bacon’s Power of Connection
Being the 2016 Bacon Queen has taken me to far-off places that I would have never imagined going, and it has connected me with new friends from all over the world. Even though I’ve traveled thousands of miles in the name of International Bacon Fellowship, I’ve never felt closer to my brothers and sisters in bacon.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, scheduled to take place on Saturday, February 17, go to the organization’s website.