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Why a Twinkie Festival?

Well, why not?

Emporia, Kan., celebrated the return of the Twinkie and most things Hostess (some products are coming this fall) and did so in style, using a limousine to transport Twinkies boxes, civic leaders and Hostess staffers to the party site. Those Twinkies were pampered with a silver platter (I was looking for plant manager Todd Crook to give the platter the Stanley Cup white glove treatment) and walked down a red carpet before the festivities truly began.

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Highlights? Where to start? At the beginning, I guess, as adults and kids got goofy with the filming of a Twinkie Shake…coming soon to YouTube, I gather. Twinkies or no, the good thing about a Shake dance is you can have some reeeeeallllly baaaaaad dance moves and fit right in.

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I’ll jump to the end next to touch base on the song and costume contests, which saw participation from young and old alike.

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As far as the music went, I was waiting for something along the lines of “Welcome Back Kotter,” which I think was the original intent. Instead, we had takeoffs of a Train song, “She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain” and a couple originals.

It’s hard to put yourself out in a costume if it isn’t on Halloween or on a stage to sing if karaoke (and, in a lot of cases, copious amounts of alcohol) isn’t involved. And people stepped forward.

It’s becoming easier to shove facefuls of food in your mouth, and several heats were needed to handle all the local competitive eaters who attended.

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If you were surprised a slender woman won instead of some hefty men at the table, you don’t pay attention to the International Federation of Competitive Eating. That’s all I’ll say about that.

What surprised me were the number of kids involved — and the success rate in keeping that cream-filled goodness contained, although there were quite a few tense moments.

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One teenager pumped in five Twinkies in 43 seconds. And looked like he could have shoveled in more. Impressive, Captain.

The thing I liked most about the Twinkie Festival was, well, a good time was had by all. Sure, it may have seemed a little goofy to some, but if other towns can celebrate other, less popular foods, why can’t we have some fun as the Twinkie returns to store shelves?

More importantly, though, why not celebrate what this means to the community? The Hostess liquidation last fall eliminated hundreds of jobs from the area. Employment numbers aren’t the same as they once were, and it’s unlikely they will return to the 500-plus workers at one point last year. However, Emporia is one of the lucky towns to have Hostess re-establish after new ownership took over, and there is no understating what a $10 million payroll can do to an area — especially in a town the size of Emporia.

My only regret? I was so busy I didn’t get a Twinkie. That’s for next year.

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