Food fests


While others may be in exotic locations, tropical paradises or exciting cities, some are prepared to swelter in the Buffalo heat and make the most of the Queen City.

Although other locations may be more exhilarating (to say the least), there are actually quite a few things to do here in the summer, especially involving food.

Summer kicks off with Taste of Buffalo, the largest food festival in the country, on July 10 and 11. This two-day food festival is sponsored by TOPS Markets.

According to the website, the event features over 60 restaurant vendors and six wineries from around Buffalo. Approximately 450,000 people attend every year.

"I grew up in Buffalo and I've gone to Taste of Buffalo for as long as I can remember," said Colin Morrissey, a senior nursing major. "Sometimes it can get pretty crowded, but there are always people there that you want to see. And the food is amazing."

According to Morrissey, there is food to satisfy even the pickiest eater. He remembers there being at least 10 different types of ethnic food. The Taste of Buffalo website reports approximately 13.

Admission to the Taste is free, but food is given in exchange for tickets, which are available to buy at the event for 50 cents each. A full sheet costs $5.

Furthermore, pre-sale vouchers can be purchased for $10 starting in early June at TOPS locations.

According to the website, each vendor will be offering three items, as well as a "healthy" option and a "sample" item. Furthermore, many will most likely be giving out free food items.

In addition to food, there will also be live entertainment and music from Buffalo locals.

The festival will run down Delaware Ave., starting at Chippewa St. and ending at Niagara Square. Taste of Buffalo will be from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

In addition to the Taste, there is another popular festival that focuses on Buffalo's pride and joy: chicken wings.

The National Buffalo Wing Festival was inspired by the 2001 movie Osmosis Jones, where characters mention a fictional wing festival in Buffalo. Buffalo's own Drew Cerza decided to actually make the event a real thing in 2002.

"It was like real life knocking off Hollywood," Cerza said.

According to "The Wing King," the festival has approximately 35 vendors and will be going into its 9th year in September. The fest is set to happen Labor Day weekend, September 4 and 5.

"There were [about] 90,000 people in the [2009 festival]," Cerza said. "We had people from 49 out of the 50 states."

Guests were invited to fill out a survey during the last fest and it was discovered that the only state not accounted for was Arkansas.

Admission tickets to Wing Fest are $5 for everyone 9 years old and over. Food tickets are also available for purchase at the event for $1. The cost of wings at all of the stands is two wings for three food tickets.

Beverages, however, must be paid for in cash. There is soda, beer and bottled water. Alcoholic beverages are only sold to those with valid 21-year-old identification.

"The wings there are incredible," Morrissey said. "There are really unique flavors, like raspberry and coconut. You never would think to put those kinds of flavors on wings, but it works really well."

Wing Fest also offers tons of giveaways, including bottles of hot sauce and samples. There is also a wing-eating contest that spans both days.

In addition, the fest has donated $125,000 for Western New York charities, according to the website.

The festival is held at Coca-Cola field on Washington St. It will run from noon to 9 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

E-mail: features@ubspectrum.com