› What: BaCON Festival
› Where: Cleveland Greenway, 3300 Keith St., Cleveland, Tenn.
› When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, April 14, rain or shine
› Admission: free for festival, $30 for 5K race
› For more information: www.facebook.com/baconfestivalclevelandtn
It's all about the divine swine when the first BaCon Festival — or BaCON — is held on the Cleveland Greenway on Saturday, April 14.
Visitors can binge on bacon bites such as chocolate-covered bacon and BLTs or enter the Ron Swanson Look-Alike Contest. All that's required is to dress in plaid and use three phrases associated with the bacon-loving "Parks and Recreation" character.
This new convention is the brainchild of Jenna Curtis and Nikki Beaty for their company, Black Bear Affair.
"We do events, but most of our events are bridal shows and Christmas markets that only reach females," says Curtis. "We were trying to think of an idea to bring in men, and thought of a bacon festival. Con is in bacon, so we called it BaCON or the Bacon Festival."
Curtis says the goal of the event is to bring tourism to Polk and Bradley counties. She says 40,000 folks on social-media sites have expressed interest in this inaugural BaCON, so if even half of those show up, that's 20,000 festivalgoers Saturday.
The fun starts Saturday morning with the BaCON 5K in Tinsley Park at 8 a.m. The entry fee is $30 and runners can sign up either online at https://register.chronotrack.com/r/37955 or Friday night, April 13, at Terra Running Co., 2548 Georgetown Road NW in Cleveland.
Festival gets underway at 10 a.m. Admission is free. Curtis says 200 food and craft vendors from six states have signed up for the festival.
All food vendors must have at least one bacon dish for sale. In addition to chocolate-covered bacon and BLTs, Curtis says there will be fried pickles wrapped in bacon and "even the kettle corn will be popped in bacon grease."
In addition to the Ron Swanson contest, there will be a Best of BaCON in which food vendors will make a bacon dish and a group of celebrity judges will choose a winner. If you're not smacking your lips at the bacon flavors, sign up for the SEC Smack Talk competition. Curtis says people will "bracket up" and go through rounds until a final trash-talking winner is crowned.
Four local bands will entertain the crowd. A children's zone will offer inflatables, face painting and other kids fun.
Curtis says parking will be available at Cleveland High School, Peerless Road Church, Cook's Food Store and at parking lots around the greenway's entrances.
For more information: www.facebook.com/baconfestivalclevelandtn.