In a land that celebrates wine, salmon and microbrew, it came to pass that on Saturday it was bacon's turn to belly up to the gastro-festival bar.
"Why?" said Mike Smith, 31, of Seattle. "Bacon's awesome!"
Smith was surrounded by a few hundred people who didn't need convincing.
They lined up deep at Portland Baconfest 2010 for samples of bacon and pork meatballs, bacon-flavor-infused vodka with Bloody Mary mix, bacon-wrapped hot dogs, Bacon brand skateboards, creamy bacon spread, Baconnaise (the overachiever in the group) and cupcakes with bacon sprinkles.
"If they'd made bacon beer," said Jonathan Dehaan, 28, of Northeast Portland, dressed in an 8-foot-tall foam bacon-strip costume, "I would've drunk it. But they didn't. So now I may have to do it. Lots of home-brewing around here, man."
Baconfest founder Emily Gibson launched the festival in 2009. She acted on a hunch that Portland would embrace a bacon festival as several other cities have in recent years. And she answered her version of an epiphany.
Gibson, 25, originally from St. Louis, returned to her Portland home late and hungry from the bars one night. She cooked a pan of hickory-smoked bacon and ate it while sitting in her bed, which has stuffed pillows in the shape of a T-bone steak and a strip of bacon.
"I thought, 'This is the best food that is out there. There should be a festival dedicated to bacon,'" said Gibson, who once hosted "The Meat Show" on PDX.FM, a Baconfest sponsor.
About 1,500 people attended last year's festival and about double that was expected Saturday on a one-block stretch of Southeast 18th Avenue next to East Burnside Street, Gibson said.
Bacon festivals dot the United States in some likely places: Chicago, Iowa, Ohio, Missouri and Atlanta. And in the not-so-likely: Seattle.
"Seattle is the vortex of bacon business," said Kathy Rose, whose What Do Bacon Do? business selling hand-crafted felt pieces of bendable bacon "people" was one of four Seattle-based vendors among the 20 or so at the festival.
Skillet Bacon Spread of Seattle reaped $200,000 last Christmas after inclusion in Martha Stewart's Christmas catalog, said Greg Petrillo. Festival-goers lined up to sip samples of Bakon-brand, bacon-flavored vodka, which has a Seattle owner but is distilled in Idaho and flavored in Cottage Grove.
And J&D's bacon products -- including Baconnaise, BaconSalt -- have reaped TV time on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" as well as praise and derision by Jon Stewart. The company is 3 years old and recorded $3 million in sales last year, said Dave Lefkow,one of its founders.
Karen Davis of North Portland bought a jar of Baconnaise and bacon-flavored lip balm.
"I could never be a vegetarian," Davis, 37, said, "because I couldn't eat bacon."
-- Allan Brettman