Dining With Denise Neil

Zack the Wichita bacon eater has been found, and he's ready to go again

Organizers of this weekend's Air Capital Bacon & Beer Festival have found Zack the bacon eater, thanks to Facebook.
Organizers of this weekend's Air Capital Bacon & Beer Festival have found Zack the bacon eater, thanks to Facebook.

On Wednesday, I posted a story that I hoped would help the Air Capital Bacon & Beer Festival find Zack, its missing bacon-eating champion from 2017.

As usual, social media came through. Zack the bacon eater has been located a state away, and he'll be back in Wichita this weekend.

It all started when organizers of the bacon festival, which happens again on Saturday at Hartman Arena, posted on Facebook a picture of a jubilant Zack just minutes after he won the bacon-eating contest at the 2017 festival. He's holding a trophy and smiling from ear to ear.

The problem was that, in all the excitement, festival organizers did not get his last name or his contact information, and they wanted him to come back on Saturday to defend his title. Two free VIP tickets were his if they could just find him. They asked Facebook to help.

I shared the tale and Zack's picture on Facebook at 8:32 a.m. on Wednesday. By 8:43 a.m., someone had tagged Zack's sister, asking whether the man in the picture was her brother. (Her response: "Yup!") And by 8:49 a.m., Facebook user Christian Garrett had tagged Cooper Oliphant with this comment: "Bro it’s Zach!"

About 30 minutes after the post went up, Zack Killingsworth, who lives in Branson, Mo., found out he was the subject of a region-wide bacon search. He got in touch with organizers and made arrangements to take off work and return to Wichita on Saturday to defend his title.

He was living in Wichita last year when his bosses at Green Lantern car wash, where Zack always brought bacon in for breakfast, urged him to enter the bacon-eating contest.

"I went with my dad and entered the contest at the gate," he said. "My bosses were there supporting me. It was a great day."

The event, which runs from 3 to 6:30 p.m. at Hartman Arena, 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.

Attendees can register on the spot to take on Zack in the bacon-eating contest, and the festival also will include a ride-able 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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