Twinkies Festival marks fourth year of snack cake celebration

Once again, the Emporia area celebrated one of the best known snack cakes around Saturday, coming to Flinthills Mall for the fourth annual Twinkies Festival.

As has been the case the three previous years, fun contests punctuated the morning. Chris Billings repeated as the adult eating champion, but not by much -- retaining his crown by all of two seconds. He had a simple strategy for victory.

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Billings' time was 1 minute, 44 seconds to unwrap and swallow 10 Twinkies. MaKayla Mercer was the kids eating champ, downing six Twinkies in 1:36.

Not everybody got through their heat. Morgan Rae Paige got through seven Twinkies before bowing out.
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The 5K saw another repeat winner in Asher Delmott, who finished in under 17 minutes despite detouring into the Twinkie Tunnel, a new addition to the race this year.

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Speaking of new features, a brand-new event was added for Saturday. A box car derby featured kit-made cars rolling down the mall parking lot hill from near Industrial Road to Sutherlands. Marley Harter was one of the contestants.

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Blake Mosley won the 9-12 age group with a time of 10.44 seconds. Claire Starr was the age 5-8 winner in 9.28.

The big thing, though, according to event spokesman Jose Feliciano, was the chance to formally celebrate Hostess' role in the Emporia community and the area's role in Hostess' rebirth over the past three years.
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Prior management had put the company up for bankruptcy protection in 2012. Apollo Global and C. Dean Metropolous bought Hostess in 2013 and immediately made Emporia the flagship production facility. Since then, several product lines have been added, new equipment has been installed to accommodate the increased demand and employment has approached 500 workers, well above the original prediction of around 350 employees.

Lisa Sage won the recipe contest while Zach Lee won the costume contest.

The official results, courtesy of the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce:

Twinkies Festival 5K

1. Asher Delmott 16 minutes, 35 seconds
2. Arturo Leal, 19:11
3. Hugo Escobar, 19:15

Box Car Derby, 5-8 age group

1. Claire Starr
2. Cameron Ziegler
3. Layken Peterson

Box Car Derby, 9-12 age group

1. Blake Mosley
2. Paige Miller
3. Trenton Ziegler

Eating Contest, adult division

1. Chris Billings, 1:44.59
2. Dwayne Boyett, 1:46.88
3. Bob Baker, 1:57.33

Eating Contest, youth division

1. MaKayla Mercer, 1:3655
2. Brian Bailey, 1:55.43
3. Musaa English, 3:06.66

Recipe Contest

1. Lisa Sage: Twinkie, pineapple and cocunut cake
2. Megan Lee: Twinkie sushi rolls
3. Donna Young: Twinkie Truffles

Costume Contest

1. Zach Lee