PA Bacon Fest sizzles for the 12th year, drawing thousands to Easton
- Easton kicked off the 12th annual PA Bacon Fest in the city's Downtown District on Saturday, drawing thousands to the city
- Featured eats included Three Oak Steakhouse's 50/50 burger, which had people lining up by the hundreds
- PA Bacon Fest continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 5
EASTON, Pa. — If there’s one thing that packs plenty of piggies into Easton’s Downtown District, you know it’s PA Bacon Fest, the premier gathering for everyone’s preferred smoky, salty pork product.
Eastonians and just about everyone else are guaranteed to flock to the celebration of bacon this weekend if a stroll through the city on Saturday was any indication of PA Bacon Fest’s popularity.
All that foot traffic – and subsequent optional $5 donations at the gate – goes a long way toward helping fund the Greater Easton Development Partnership, which allows the organization to present free events and programming in the city, including Easton Out Loud, Live at the Falls concerts, and so much more.
Bacon on a stick, bacon pizza, bacon mac ’n’ cheese, bacon burgers, chocolate-covered bacon, bacon-infused beer – PA Bacon Fest’s 12th iteration has all these dishes on top of hundreds of other eats featuring the crunch cuisine, and people were more than willing to wait for lines spanning blocks to get a taste.
With around 140 vendors on hand doling out the delights, there were more than enough options to sate just about any porky palate, even if some dishes and drinks were a bit unorthodox.
"At Bacon Fest, people just want the bacon, and I don’t blame ‘em. I want it too!”Joe Moranville, owner of The Quadrant Book Mart and Coffee House
Attendees were willing to try bacon wrapped on almost any type of food.
Some of the wackiest tasting treats on the menu included bacon cannolis from Sette Luna — located at 219 Ferry St. in Easton — and bacon-covered chocolate and cupcakes from Sweet Girlz Bakery — found at 40 N. Third Street.
Small crowds gathered around the eateries’ tents for a taste of the sweet and salty concoctions, which unlike most traditional desserts, intensified the flavors.
“What doesn’t taste good with bacon?” was the overall sentiment heard on Saturday.
Chris Corey, owner of Roastwell Coffee Roasters, said his pair of stands were both doing “fantastic” as of Saturday afternoon, crediting the pleasant weather in addition to his unique brew and desserts – including a maple bacon coffee, available hot and iced.
“People love it, honestly. We did it last year and we couldn’t make enough of it. It’s selling fantastically. With bacon being the theme, people are willing to try anything with it, so we’ve been very happy with it, and the bacon biscotti, which is going over very well,” Corey said.
Jo Moranville, owner of The Quadrant Book Mart and Coffee House for 29 years – and has served as the chair of Easton’s Garlic Festival – said she likes to keep it fresh when it comes to prepping for PA Bacon Fest, which happens to be quite the task, being she’s been there since the start.
This year’s PA Bacon Fest selection from Quadrant includes baconated pork and bacon chili, friend polenta with bacon aioli, and cornbread with a bacon honey drizzle.
“We kind of do something different every year, looking for the next best bacon dish,” Moranville said.
And that strategy works – her operation has to pick up around 55 to 60 pounds of bacon to prepare for the festival, and even if the price of pork products has escalated over the years, people are willing to pay up to get a taste.
Perhaps it has something to do with that comforting, nostalgic taste of salt, fat, and crispiness that makes it work, as Moranville said she finds PA Bacon Fest is a bigger draw than even Garlic Fest.
“Garlic Fest is a foodies kind of thing, it’s not everyone’s favorite thing. The chefs get really chefy with the garlic, they can make really fine dishes – at Bacon Fest, people just want the bacon, and I don’t blame ‘em. I want it too!” Moranville said.
One of the biggest bacon extravaganzas was the legendary 50/50 burger from Three Oak Steakhouse, a behemoth featuring a half ground bacon, half-ground prime beef patty topped with homemade bacon jam, steakhouse aioli and crispy frizzled onions on a grilled brioche bun.
Lines for the legendary burger stretched hundreds of customers long, winding down North Bank Street. Patrons said they waited more than an hour or more to score a 50/50 burger, making it one of the most sought-after offerings at the festival.
Laura Fretz, general manager of Three Oak Steakhouse, confirmed business was crazy busy since the start of the day.
“It’s been all day, since, I want to say, 8 o’clock this morning,” Fretz said, adding customers had told her the burgers were “amazing, and worth the wait.”
Fretz said even she would brave the lines to get herself one of those bacon-laden burgers, though she recommends anyone interested in swinging by on Sunday should “get here early.”
“This is our third year standing in line for the 50/50 burger. The first year, they ran out of burgers. They’re amazing. I think it’s the combination of the bun with the crispy onions on the inside. It’s absolutely worth the wait,” Sylvia Moreira of Easton said.
In addition to the eats, the fest included cooking competitions, plenty of musical performances, hog-calling contests, and so much more for everyone to enjoy.
And while savory and sweet bacon dishes, bacony desserts, and bacon beers and other beverages are certainly the stars of the show, Moranville said the festival is a great opportunity to highlight the city itself, spurring visitors from close and afar to come back and check things out when the Downtown District isn’t packed to the gills with pig-loving pedestrians.
“People come down, and there’s no way they can see the whole festival, much less all the shops, but I think they get a feel for the city. We’re on the street, the forbidden place – usually it’s just cars – so you get to kind of stroll around and come back and see it when there’s not a festival,” Moranville said.
PA Bacon Fest will continue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Sunday, Nov. 5.