Bacon & Beer Festival, 2014 was held on Saturday, March 8 at the Scheels Arena in Fargo, ND.
The event started at 5pm and we arrived about 15 minutes early to a packed lobby waiting for the doors to open. We had purchased tickets online months in advance and we were glad, as the event was sold out.
It was a cool day so I was thankful we could wait in the somewhat warm lobby. We got a ride and were dropped at the door. If you wanted to park it was a $5 fee. Admission was $30 plus ticket fees. Included in your fee was: entertainment, as many beer samples as you wanted(!!), a commemorative beer glass and 6 bacon bucks to use on bacon entrees prepared by local restaurants. There was a $75 VIP option which included early entry (3:30pm), a t-shirt, beer glass, unlimited bacon samples (prior to the 5pm opening), brewmaster Q&A, a private VIP lounge and a cash bar with liquor.
We started to get slightly nervous after we entered the ticketing area and showed our ID’s. We looked behind us to see MASSES of people. I don’t know how many tickets they capped the event at, but this seemed daunting.
We received a beer guide showing where the booths were laid out, the sponsors and a bracelet with our bacon bucks.
Upon entry, I found the beer and bacon right away. They were so fun!
The primary sponsors were the Fargo Forum, Bernie’s Liquor and more listed above.
We made our way to the floor level of the arena to see what was up and get some beer samples. I remember I liked that Hefe beer on the left. At this point I realized I wouldn’t be getting as many photos as I hoped for. The floor was extremely crowded and trying to get from one table to the next was difficult. I didn’t know where lines started or ended. I felt the beer people were just pouring beer after beer and we never really got a chance to visit with anyone or ask questions about the beer. The food lines were ridiculous. There were many restaurants featured that I would maybe try but 2 things: 1) I hadn’t eaten much that day and prior to coming my sister and I ate a late, large lunch ruining my appetite (but crucial for beer tasting) and 2) the lines were so long. Some of the food required 2 bacon tickets which I thought wasn’t fair. They should all be one and the restaurants should make them to that scale. We did see a bacon wrapped bacon bite that looked good, but quickly “sold” out.
This is a poor photo, but it was a sweet and salty snack mix with bacon from JT Cigarro’s. I thought it was great and a great size. There was a pizza place giving out 2 rather large slices of pizza and I thought that was a bit much. No doubt it was probably appreciated by the beer drinkers and used as a good beer absorber!
This was a beer and bacon mac and cheese with caramelized onions by Monte’s I believe. My girlfriend tried it and said it was OK, could have been a bit creamier. Their portion size was excellent.
This was a bacon-stuffed mushroom my friend also got. I can’t remember from where though. Again, due to the sheer volume of people we didn’t get a chance to visit with the restaurants or even see who was serving what. This is a huge downer for me and it must be for the restaurateurs as well. We continued up on the upper level where there were more booths featuring beers and food.
Is the picture fuzzy or was I just fuzzy at that point? Ha ha!
Overall, I am super glad I got to experience this event. The music was great – all the bands I heard were awesome. The beers were wonderful and my company was great. My suggestions for next year would be that they sell fewer tickets. Like at least 1,000 less. The Bismarck Beerfest was far superior just because you could move around and visit. For being the inaugural festival though, it went fairly well and seemed to be staffed adequately. I feel that by having less attendees both the food and the beer samples would be appreciated more. The event also had bacon art (I never saw any), a bacon eating contest (couldn’t get close enough to watch) and voting for the best food. Again, I can’t recall as we were at the back of the room and couldn’t see/hear. We ended up giving our bacon bucks away since we weren’t all that hungry and the lines were so long. But I truly hope they do this event again as it was fun, just with fewer people.