When it comes to festivals touting the time-honored trifecta of beer, bacon and cheese, it is extremely difficult to weed out any negatives. However, following last year’s overcrowded, sweaty event, I felt compelled to call out the organizers for their lack of planning, which led to poor line management and a general frustration among the crowd.
Upon approaching the entrance to this year’s New Glarus Beer, Bacon & Cheese Fest, however, I immediately sensed an air of improvement. This can most likely be attributed to the festival layout, which was stretched out over an additional block to better accommodate the masses clamoring for savory bacon and cheese and cool, frothy beverages with which to wash them down. This resulted in shorter lines, less congestion (aka less brushing against sweat-soaked strangers) and, generally, a more jovial vibe up and down the streets. A decent wind fanning down the high-80s temps certainly didn’t hurt conditions either.
Beer selection seemed to have reached a new peak this year as one whole block consisted only of suds vendors, including BB&C newcomers Karben4 out of Madison and Crystal Lake Brewing from neighboring Illinois. Old standbys such as Verona’s Gray’s Tied House and hometown favorite New Glarus Brewing continued to welcome a steady line of thirsty fest-goers.
Following last year’s uptick in bacon vendors, a welcome, mouth-watering sight to guests was an even larger presence of pork-based tents lining the street.
With the surge in beer and bacon purveyors, there seemed to be a noticeable falloff in cheese makers at this year’s fest. Luckily, a handful of vendors utilized cheese in treats such as popcorn, mac & cheese and nachos to help attendees get their fix.