Sometimes the hype is greater than the bang, such was the case for many festival goers attending last weekend’s Bacon Nation Festival at Francis Field in St Augustine. I was excited for the chance to shake hands with the bacon lady, but overall, it left me limp.
The City of St Augustine rents the venue to promoters that have included the Mumford and Sons Gentlemen of the Road Tour, Rhythm and Ribs Festival, and, of course, for free baseball and tag football games back in the day.
But like a baseball game without hotdogs, what good is a bacon festival without bacon?
Promoters started Saturday making apologies to event goers and Sunday it was more of the same. By Sunday morning, facebook posts and tweets on twitter, overwhelmingly negative about the experience, inundated the Internet and panned the event. One poster from Jacksonville wrote to “stay home and save your money”.
The City says that they aren’t responsible for the success or failure of events that want to rent the community landmark. They say most of the events held at Francis Field are recurring tenants year after year. Francis Field is the largest venue in St Augustine, closest to downtown and the attractions, has adjacent parking in the Historic Downtown Parking Facility, and transportation available by trolley, train, or carriage from the Visitor Information Center. It is one of the few locations that offers permanent public restrooms.
The idea was unique — it was different from the crowd of seafood, barbecue and clam chowder events St Augustine is known for. I mean, who doesn’t love bacon? The crispy treat that tops off your sandwich or salad, or can be just as good with your morning eggs and coffee. I used to keep a plate of cooked bacon near the microwave for a fast mid-day snack. My dog Buster would break the cabinet door to get to a single piece. At least the Budweiser was cold. But this festival was new. Poor planning, fickle vendors, and concessioners were a huge disappointment to both the attendees and the promoters.
Last month was “Bacon Month” at Denny’s and they offered bacon milkshakes, bacon and bacon sandwiches, bacon-fried bacon, you name it, they had it. Maybe with a bit more advance publicity and advertising before the event, better coordination with suppliers and a better backup plan, the organizers of this unusual event will return again to happier crowds. “Would you like bacon with that bacon, sir?”
Photo credits: © 2014 Historic City News contributed photograph by Wayne Fusco