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Justin Glawe, Forum News Service, Published October 06 2013

GF festival celebrates beer, bacon

GRAND FORKS – A man from Ypsilanti, Mich., ate 27 slices of bacon in two minutes Saturday night because he wanted a trophy with a pig on top and the glory that came with it.

Afterward, he looked tired.

Jason Day, 34, donned a Detroit Tigers hat to receive his prize, which didn’t come without controversy. Day and eight others competed in a bacon eating contest at Happy Harry’s Beer and Bacon Festival, held at the Alerus Center, but when the final whistle blew, Day was still chewing.

“He’s not chewing, he’s just got big cheeks,” a few supporters yelled.

In what was a fairly quick event-planning session, Alerus Center assistant director Bob LeBarron decided to combine the annual beer festival with a gluttonous amount of pork.

“I’m not going to claim to be a genius,” he said. “It was easy to put two and two together.”

It worked. Attendance was higher than last year, when the event was bacon-free.

But not everyone in attendance came for the food. As a man sat in the same chair Day would soon use to secure his victory, Dawn Vasend, who came for the beer, gave him a once over.

He looked like he needed bacon.

“They have a desperate look about them,” she said of bacon-ites. “They look like they need some protein.”

Vasend and her husband, Ray Vasend, arrived too late to partake in the pork purge, but the self-described “beer connoisseurs” were just fine with their brew.

“It’s growing,” Ray Vasend said of the event.

Chris Schempp, a 32-year-old Grand Forks man, thought he had a good thing going with the 19 slices he downed during the contest.

While it wasn’t enough to win, he learned a valuable, competitive eating-based lesson.

“My first bite was eight slices,” he said. “I couldn’t move my jaw. That was a bad idea.”