Bacon, Bacon, and more Bacon!

The inaugural celebration of America’s mightiest meat kicks off this Father’s Day weekend at the Dell’Osso Family Farm in Lathrop with its Baconfest June 18-19. With over 40,000 attendees anticipated along with celebrity host Guy Fieri, bands, beer, contests, and more, it’s a recipe for a great family weekend.

“It should be a blast,” Fieri told me by phone last week. The chef, restaurateur, author and TV host of the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, among others, will be on hand to emcee the weekend’s bacon-obsessed “Mystery Basket” cook-off competitions for top honors and prizes. “They’ve really got it going here. What an event it’s going to be!”

A colorful personality, Fieri just celebrated his 300th episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives which was shot in Cuba. He’s come a long way since his rock ‘n’ roll attitude helped him earn a chance to compete in the reality show Next Food Network Star in 2005. He told the network that he likes to “live big, laugh hard, and cook wild” in his audition video. Beating out more than 1,000 other entrants, he emerged victorious, becoming the second person to win the cooking reality show and he hasn’t looked back.

“If you would have told me that was going to be the end game, I would have laughed and said, ‘you’ve got to be kidding. There’s no way that’s going to happen,’ but it sure happened,” he shared. Along the way he’s gathered a treasure chest of television hits while also turning his attention to kids and getting them in the kitchen.

“We’ve got kids that are eating fast food believing that that’s healthy food,” he said. “You’ve got kids eating a bunch of processed junk and look what we’re dealing with, childhood diabetes.” He takes the issue seriously and worked with the State Legislature to gain focus on getting kids involved in cooking. “Kids shouldn’t be worrying about diabetes,” he added. “They should be worrying about how to get their ball over across the fence.” The result of his drive is Cooking With Kids, an organization that provides funding for programs that get kids in to the kitchen.

The father of two sons also has some words of wisdom for this Father’s Day weekend. “Slow down. As much as you want their attention, give them yours.” he offered. “Cooking with your kids, sitting down at the dinner table, having a talk, asking how the day went, understanding where things are – this is all really big stuff.” He is also a big fan and supporter of the military. “When you get a chance to spend this Father’s Day with your kids, think about all of the fallen heroes and the soldiers that are still displaced from their family.”

Over the weekend, Chef Fieri will emcee the cook-off competitions where amateur and professional finalists will participate in a live cook-off competition using a mystery basket format. All ingredients in the basket will be provided for the contestants who will need to create a dish on stage using the ingredients. Dishes will be judged on creative use of bacon, taste, and presentation. Yours truly will join the panel of judges on Saturday for the amateur contest. The professional cooking contest is slated for Sunday.

But wait there’s more! A Bacon Eating Contest for amateurs is slated for 1:15-2:15 p.m. on Saturday and the Professional Bacon Eating Contest is at the same time on Sunday. All food contests will be on the unique T.R.U.C.K! Stage (Traveling Restaurant Ultimate Competition Kitchen), the most advanced interactive, mobile competition kitchen in the world.

Attendees will also enjoy 18 live bands on two stages, cooking demonstrations, dozens of gourmet Bacon Alley Food Vendors featuring Sunnyvalley Smoked Meats popular bacon, microbrews, the Best Bloody Mary Contest, the Mid Valley Car Show, 100 artisan crafts and products. Family-oriented, there are free fun kids’ activities including the Dell’Osso Express Train and Pedal Car Speedway, kids’ Ferris Wheel and Roller Coaster, and more, in two play areas.

“I don’t think people know how close it is,” added Fieri about the Lathrop location. Dell’Osso Family Farm is located at 501 Manthey Road in Lathrop, which is east of Tracy off of Interstate 5. Gates open Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit baconfest.com.

MUSICAL NOTES: Joel Dorham celebrates his 53 years on the music scene with his Latin Jazz Octet and special guests Saturday, June 25 from 9 p.m. to midnight at Pacific Coast Brewing Co., 906 Washington Street in Oakland. No cover, for information, call 510-836-2739.

WEEKEND SCENE: Pablo Cruise Friday, Arnez J Saturday, Sunday at Yoshi’s Jack London Square Oakland … Keith Greeninger Band, Jill Knight with Pam Delgado and Jeri Jones Friday, Robin Flower and Libby McLaren Saturday, Cavalcade of Stars Sunday, West Coast Songwriters Competition Monday at Freight & Salvage Berkeley … Jim Cordiss, Friday, Saturday at Zio Fraedo’s Pleasant Hill … Tony Miceli, Anthony Smith Friday, Kyra Gordon Saturday, Nelle Neighbor Alonzo (4:30 p.m.), Pamela Rose (7 p.m.) Sunday at California Jazz Conservatory Berkeley … Mitch Woods and His Rocket 88’s Friday, Red Meat Saturday, Hillbilly Hootenanny Revue Sunday, Jazz Jam Monday at Armando’s Martinez … Ben Vereen Friday, Saturday at Feinstein’s at the Nikko San Francisco.

COMEDY SCENE: Shea Suga, Mario Hodge, Rudy O through Sunday at Tommy T’s Comedy Club Pleasanton … Aries Spears Friday-Sunday at Cobb’s Comedy Club San Francisco … Nate Bargatze Friday, Saturday, SF Comedy Showcase Sunday at the Punch Line San Francisco.

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