Cruz Reyes brought home the bacon.
The Manteca resident topped a field of 40 to win the amateur division of the Baconfest’s Amateur Bacon Eating Contest featuring premium bacon from Manteca’s Sunnyvalley Meats.
Reyes ate a pound of bacon in two minutes to win his heat. Then he turned around minutes later and downed another 1.5 pounds of bacon in three minutes to win the title.
Reyes is a rank amateur compared to Michelle Lesco when it comes to pigging out. She downed eight pounds of cooked bacon in six minutes to win $2,000 for first place. The Tucson resident is the No .3 ranked woman in the world based on Major League Eating competitions and seventh overall.
The first Baconfest was a success by any measure. More than 40,000 guests stopped by Dell’Osso Farms in Lathrop over the two-day event this past weekend. Given the $25 entry fee for adults and $12.50 for kids a case can be made it now ranks as San Joaquin County’s most successful festival.
An example of how foodies were in hog heaven is illustrated by just one of the many bacon items for sale — the Bacon Bouquets featuring five strips of five of the seven different flavored bacons that Sunnyvalley Meats markets. Some 10,000 Bacon Bouquets were sold on Saturday alone.
The event went through some 15,000 pounds of bacon or 240,000 slices all processed at Sunnyvalley Meats that provides 150 year round jobs — and 50 more around the holidays when ham production picks up — at their West Yosemite Avenue location.
The winners of the Baconfest Amateur Chef contest were valley residents Shawn Cray and Michelle Klasser. Gil Afaro was the Master Chef Professional Division winner.
Organizer Susan Dell’Osso said there will definitely be a second Baconfest. Based on demand this past weekend, the food portion will be stepped up even more given the crowds were non-stop at all of the bacon bars set up throughout the grounds.
“We will still emphasize beer, band, and bacon,” Dell’Osso said.
They willlook at perhaps moving nit from the Father’s Day weekend given it was difficult to line up workers due to the “holiday.”
Some 600 people were hired to stage the event.
There is little dispute that Dell’Osso Farms is the biggest tourist attraction in the Northern San Joaquin Valley plus it still ranks as the state’s top agri-tourist destination.
More than 3 million visitors have stopped by the farm since the first Pumpkin Maze was rolled out 20 years ago. That number also includes six Holidays on the Farm productions complete with artificial snow hill, five Mud Runs on the Farm and now the Baconfest.
There have been thousands of seasonal jobs created as well as opportunities for non-profits supplying manpower to have earned more than $1 million for their endeavors since 1996.
If the 100 acres was farmed as it had been prior to 1996, it would have provided two or perhaps three seasonal jobs each year.
As an aside, the Baconfest is a celebration of the success of the Andreetta family with son Bill taking what was started as a meat locker in Manteca into one of the nation’s premier providers of premium quality bacon and hams,
More than a few Bay Area people who have become addicted to the quality of Fagundes Meats making it a point to stop there on the way to Sierra cabins to load up on meat visited that Manteca’s firm booth at the Baconfest as well.
Thanks to Andreetta a case can be made that Manteca is in the running as the “Meat Lovers’ Capital of the 209.” He certainly won’t get much argument from Bay Area — and valley — foodies that pigged out over the weekend.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com