A taste of Midwest in the mountains: Bacon and Bourbon Festival returns to Keystone for ninth year
KEYSTONE — Get ready to pig out this weekend at Keystone Resort with the ninth annual Bacon and Bourbon Festival. With free live music, over 3,000 pounds of bacon, bacon merch and a camp for kids, the event is as fun and family friendly as ever.
It all started when a few Iowans thought Keystone would be a great location for another bacon festival like the one they host in Des Moines. The Keystone Neighbourhood Company organizers then added the bourbon aspect four years ago for a unique flair.
“We’ve grown the event over 240% since it first started in the summer of 2011,” said Maja Russer, director of events and marketing for the Keystone Neighbourhood Company.
As the name implies, the main focus is the bacon. Returning are Berkwood Farms and Des Moines Bacon Company while joining them are Wuennecke’s City Meat Market and Godshall’s to cook up a seasoned and cured goods for unlimited strip sampling.
“It’s actually like a wine sampling” Russer said. “Each company brings a variety, just like how you can have your cabernet or sauvignon blanc.” With Godshall’s, this will be the first time that turkey bacon, or any bacon alternative, will be served.
“We’re excited to have these guys because I think it’s a good fit for Colorado and our healthy mountain lifestyle,” said Russer.
In addition to the sampling, more than 20 food vendors such as Higgles Ice Cream, Kickapoo Tavern and Zuma Roadhouse will offer bacon-focused creations. New to the festival are Cochon Cannery from Louisiana with their boudin and spicy jam grilled cheese and Frisco’s Shuck Brothers serving oysters Rockefeller topped with spinach and bacon.
What: Ninth annual Keystone Bacon and Bourbon Festival
Where: Keystone Ski Resort’s River Run Village
When: 1–6 p.m. on Saturday, June 22, and Sunday, June 23
Cost: Music and attendance are free. Packages range from $20–$55 and a la carte tickets for individual dishes can be bought at $4 each. Visit KeystoneFestivals.com to purchase and for more information.
Kids and adults can sign up for the bacon eating challenge if that isn’t enough to satisfy their appetites. Adults race to finish roughly a half-pound of bacon while children chow down on about a quarter-pound to see who can win bacon swag and a trophy.
Revamped this year is Camp Bacon, a series of educational activities for kids to become a Bacon Camp Ranger and earn a Bacon Diploma. The workshops are led by Marshall Porter, one of the founders of the festival and a member of the Iowa Bacon Board. Other fun and games include a photo booth, the Cave of Confusion funhouse and face painting. On Sunday afternoon after the eating contest, Porter and the 2019 Bacon Queen from Iowa’s Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival will crown a Bacon Prince and Bacon Princess.
“It kind of happened organically two years ago with a little boy who wrote a song about bacon and sang it at the bacon education center for Marshall,” Russer said. “We kind of impromptu crowned him the Bacon Prince and now we’ve just decided to embrace that and make it more of an official event.”
For the older folks who may be young at heart, there’s the Jim Beam Bourbon Tour that features more than 15 different brands, including Colorado’s own Breckenridge Distillery, Stranahan’s and Tincup Whiskey.
“We have almost double the amount of bourbon vendors coming and a bigger space for it this year,” said Russer.
Four bartending seminars are featured in this year’s tour. Called Maker’s Mark Mix It Sessions, the demonstrations will teach people how to make old fashions and other cocktails. Maker’s Mark will also be on-site for people to personalize koozies and large cocktail ice cubes.
Six musical acts will perform throughout the weekend. On Saturday Denver-based rock band King Cardinal will take the stage from 1–2 p.m. followed by folk group The Sweet Lilies from 2:30–4 p.m. Headlining at 4:30 p.m. is the ACDC cover band Hell’s Belles, who have attended the festival since its inception.
Starting the festivities on Sunday is the O’Connor Brothers Band at 1 p.m. Fiddler Katie Glassman & Snapshot play their Americana tunes from 2:30–4 p.m.
Closing out the weekend on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. is the Michael Jackson tribute band Who’s Bad. Founded in 2003, it it’s the world’s longest running tribute experience to Jackson and the only one to predate his passing.
“It’s a fun way to kick off the summer and really get the Keystone festival season going,” Russer said.
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