The first annual Boots, Brews, & Bacon Fest on Saturday, July 29 was a greasy success, as 1,100 people from around the valley came out to try the best bacon bite and enjoy refreshing brews. Presented by the Visalia Convention Center, this inaugural event showcased craft beer, music, and bacon-inspired food prepared by chefs from around Tulare County.

Held indoors at the Convention Center, the venue provided a cool atmosphere for a scorching 100-degree summer day. The festivities included craft beer tasting, local restaurants featuring their best bacon bites, a cash prize for the best bacon dish as voted by the attendees, corn hole, a photo booth, and live music by Leaving Austin, Brandon Pasion, and Daniel Rose. The event also featured a bacon-eating contest where 10 contestants ate their way to compete for the top prize.

The festival was the brainchild of Visalia Convention Center General Manager Shelley Ellis. Similar to an event she had attended when she lived in Washington, Shelley had a hunch that Visalia residents would benefit from a festival of this magnitude, especially if it was held inside an air-conditioned building. Her hunch was right.

Local chefs from restaurants around Tulare County competed for a trophy as they prepared the most creative and scrumptious bacon bite. Attendees had the opportunity to vote on their favorite treat, and the winner of the tastiest pork morsel was awarded with a frying pan-shaped trophy. In the end, the prize went to PhD for their Japanese Style Braised Bacon with House-Made Kimchi.

Some of the local and national breweries featured at the event included Bird Street Brewing, Inc., Lengthwise Brewing, Three Monkeys Brewing, TCHOPS, Full Circle Brewing Co., Goose Island Brewery, 10 Barrel Brewing Company, Stella Artois, Founders Brewing Co., Tioga Sequoia Brewing Co., Fortiter Brewing Co., Redhook Ale Brewery, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Kona Brewing Co., Golden Road Brewing, Elysian Brewing, Zack’s Brewing Co., and Kaweah Brewery.

Several of the restaurants at the event included Tulare Meat Locker & Sausage Co., Glick’s & Company, PhD, The Café, Pita Kabob, BL Quality Meats, Gourmet Desserts & Wedding Cakes by Shelly, Visalia Marriott, A&W, California Cacciatore Fine Wines & Olive Oil Corp., and The Frosted Muffin. Each offered delicious treats for guests to grab, including bacon bites, sausage, crusted shrimp, maple bacon mini cupcakes, and macaroni and cheese.

The Visalia Convention Center also donated some of the proceeds from the event to Visalia’s roller derby team, The V-Town Derby Dames.

“We owe the success of the first Boots, Brews, & Bacon Festival entirely to the great partnerships and support from our sponsors, Bueno Beverage, BL Quality Meats, Giant Chevrolet Cadillac, the California Pork Producers Association, the many local breweries and restaurants, everyone that attended, and the great team at the Visalia Convention Center that worked so hard to produce this event,” said Shelley. “We are very excited that this will be an annual event.”

Cheers to a successful first annual Boots, Brews, & Bacon Fest! Keep your eyes open for the second annual event to be held on July 28, 2018. Be sure to buy your tickets early and pick them up a few days before to avoid standing in line the day of. Take that time you saved to jump ahead of the crowd and grab a brew and some scrumptious bacon bites!