Dining With Denise Neil

Do you know this man? Wichita bacon eater disappears after downing a pound

It's not the type of missing person post you normally see on social media.

But it's serious business to the organizers of this weekend's Air Capital Bacon & Beer Festival, which happens on Saturday at Hartman Arena.

The event, which allows attendees to sip craft beer and sample bacon-centric dishes prepared by local restaurants, also contains several competitions, including the big one — a bacon-eating contest.

At last year's event, a young competitor was pulled out of the crowd to compete in the event, in which the person who downs a pound of bacon the fastest wins a trophy and bragging rights.

His name was Zack. He was thin. He was young. He was blond. And he could inhale bacon.

He won the trophy, but in all the jubilation, bacon festival organizers did not get his last name or his contact information.

Now they want to find him. He has two free VIP tickets to this year's festival waiting for him plus an invitation to return and defend his pork-pounding prowess.

"We've got to have him come back and defend his title," said Shelby Sachs, one of the festival's organizers.

If you know this missing Zack, she says, either tag him on the festival's Facebook post or give him a call and tell him to get in touch with festival organizers.

If you're not Zack

Tickets are still available to the festival, which is now in its fourth year at Hartman Arena in Park City.

The event, which runs from 3 to 6:30 p.m., is a celebration of America’s favorite pork product that features unlimited samples of bacon-centric appetizers from about a dozen local restaurants as well as samples of more than 75 types of beer, most provided by Wichita’s local breweries.

The festival is a big hit in Wichita, said Shelby Sachs of Jade Presents, the Fargo, N.D.-based promoter that has been in charge of the festival since its second year.

"People are big fans of their bacon down there," she said.

Among the restaurants providing samples on Saturday are El Pollo Dorado, LumpiaPalooza, The Grille at Reflection Ridge, Jimmy’s Egg and Noble House.

In between bacon bites, attendees also can sample beers from River City, Hopping Gnome, Aero Plains, Limestone Brewing Company, Third Place and more. Augustino Brewing Company, which is new to Wichita, also will join in.

Both the restaurants and breweries will be competing for people’s choice awards, and the winner in each category will take home a trophy.

Wichita’s first bacon festival was in 2015, and it drew a huge crowd but was short on samples. In 2016, the arena chose Jade Presents to run the event, and the problems were corrected.

Just over 700 people attended during Jade's first year, Sachs said, but attendance went up to about 1,300 last year. She's hoping for a sell-out crowd of 1,500 this year.

In addition to the bacon-eating contest, the festival will include a rideable mechanical pig and other activities. All is included with the price of a ticket, which is $30 in advance, $35 the day of the event.

Attendees must be at least 21. Advance tickets are available at www.hartmanarena.com.

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