Bacon Appreciation Day returns in full force at Buttermilk |

Bacon Appreciation Day returns in full force at Buttermilk

Beloved breakfast meat brings people together on the slopes

Jami McMannes of Aspen eats Canadian bacon while wearing a bacon suit at No Problem Cabin during Bacon Appreciation Day at Buttermilk on Sunday, April 3, 2022.
Kaya Williams/The Aspen Times

Ask anyone partaking what they love about Buttermilk’s annual Bacon Appreciation Day the answer will almost certainly be the same: It’s free bacon. Duh.

“Bacon’s pretty universal,” said Rich Burkley, who was slinging jalapeño-infused strips at the base of the Tiehack chairlift at Buttermilk on Sunday. Make it free and it’s all the better, he said.

The senior vice president of strategy and business development for Aspen Skiing Co. was back in his usual spot — he has helped out at more than half a dozen bacon days and has historically posted up at Tiehack, he said — for the return of a beloved Buttermilk closing day tradition. (Sunday was the last day of the season at the ‘Milk; Aspen Highlands closes April 10, Snowmass closes April 17 and Aspen Mountain closes April 24.)

Skiers and snowboarders and fans of all kinds of pork products have flocked to the slopes for more than a decade on closing day, motivated by stations set up all over the mountain with free bacon treats since 2011. There were six bacon stations this year, each with different offerings (including some vegan bacon at one stop), plus morning bacon-sprinkled donuts at the base; Bumps Restaurant at the base and the Cliffhouse at the top of the mountain also offered bacon specials.

But there was no bacon day in 2020 because resorts shut down early due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Buttermilk didn’t skip Bacon Day entirely in 2021, mountain manager Travis Benson said, but last year the focus was on some “surprise and delight” bacon treats to keep people spread out rather than the usual clusters of bacon fiends at designated stations.

Rich Burkley helps distribute jalapeño-infused bacon at the base of Tiehack during Bacon Appreciation Day at Buttermilk on Sunday, April 3, 2022.
Kaya Williams/The Aspen Times

Benson estimates has attended just about every Bacon Appreciation Day since the event started, he said while checking in at the Canadian bacon station near No Problem Cabin.

He loves “the celebration” and “the fun” — “it has definitely garnered fanfare over the years,” he said — but it’s the familial vibe that really seals the deal.

“My favorite part is (that) it’s the families that come out,” Benson said.

Signs spell out the word "bacon" outside ski patrol headquarters during Bacon Appreciation Day at Buttermilk on Sunday, April 3, 2022.
Kaya Williams/The Aspen Times

Also emerging: the costumes.

Jami McMannes, who lives in Aspen, went all-in this year with a full-body ‘fit that looks like a giant piece of bacon. The suit arrived yesterday, “just in time,” McMannes said while munching on Canadian bacon at No Problem Cabin.

She wasn’t the only one embracing the spirit of the day head-to-toe, either. Though a wet snow put a damper on spring skiing outfits suited for warmer weather, there was plenty of bacon-themed garb on the slopes: Lifties at the base of the Summit Express chairlift also wore full-body bacon suits; one skier even donned an inflatable pig suit.

Hotdog Hans chats with 7-year-old Wilder and 3-year-old Lael Thompson of Carbondale outside Bumps Restaurant during Bacon Appreciation Day at Buttermilk on Sunday, April 3, 2022.
Kaya Williams/The Aspen Times

Even Hotdog Hans, the elderly alter ego of local Olympian Alex Ferreira, made an appearance for the festivities with a film crew in tow.

Decked out in a bright yellow jacket and jeans and prone to exaggeration, Hans said that since he’s “like 110” years old, he joked that has attended nearly 90 Bacon Appreciation Days. Maybe not possible for the average human being, given that the celebration is 12 years old, but Hans is no average human being.

What gives Bacon Appreciation Day such an appeal to him? Like most everyone else, the answer was bacon.

“It’s full of protein, and it makes people smile,” he said.

For McMannes, it’s the sense of community, and the variety too: “I love that there are so many kinds of bacon, so many different ways, so many people coming together around a love of bacon,” she said.

And for one enthusiastic ski instructor at the base of Tiehack, it was everything.

“This is the best day of my life,” they shouted.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that Jami McMannes lives in Aspen.

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