Bacon, beer, and fundraising: Lift-Off gets its sizzle back

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By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario - Mixing beer and bacon proved to be a winning recipe for Cornwall's annual music and hot air balloon festival.

Nearly 200 people packed the large gymnasium at Nativity Hall for the Kinsmen Cornwall Lift-Off 2014 Bacon & Beer Bonanza and silent auction Saturday night helping to raise upwards of $4,000.

A long row of caterers, chefs, and restaurant representatives were steadily handing out bacon cupcakes, bacon potatoes, bacon biscuits, bacon dip, bacon donuts, and several other bacon-related hors d'oeuvres.

"This is bacon heaven" was the choice phrase of the evening.

Bacon-lovers were pacing back and forth to their favourite of seven booths offering bacon delights for hours. Rock classic band Busker's Dream and games inspired by bacon kept people on the dance floor as the entire crowd gathered to watch.

The highlight of the bacon and beer bonanza, besides the bacon and beer itself, was the all-you-can-eat bacon-off. A dozen contestants lined up to see who could eat the most one-pound trays of bacon in five minutes.

The winner walked away with free merchandise from Lift-Off and beer sponsors. But having the ultimate bragging rights of being Cornwall's bacon eating champ was the real prize.

Eric Pidgeon ate well over a pound of bacon to clench the sweet and salty victory.

"I love bacon a lot," he said. "But it was very dry and it wasn't easy to swallow. I needed to use a lot of water."

Pidgeon stressed it was worth the $25 ticket.

Mary Ann Marleau, Lift-Off co-chair, said the entire board wanted to change pace from typical fundraisers and start new with a fresh idea.

The change in direction also applied to Lift-Off ticket prices. The board announced that a weekend pass now costs $25 instead of $40 during an ongoing early bird special.

"People pay big ticket money in bigger cities for big bands, but we can't afford to charge big ticket prices because it's been proven in the past it doesn't work for us," said Marleau. "This year we're lowering our prices. We're probably not going to be able to bring in the big name bands like we used to, but we're listening to our community. We're gearing it to their needs."

The fundraising event will help the volunteer-driven organization secure down payments for their major musical acts. In order for Lift-Off to run smoothly, or at all, from July 10 to 13 this year the bands need to be paid well in advance.

"People have to understand that we're a non-profit event," she said.

Marleau thanked their 'bacon partner' and major event sponsor Olymel for their continued support. The big prize of the evening was a year's supply of bacon (66 pounds).

For more information on Lift-Off, visit www.lift-off.ca.

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