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Saturday, May 25, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

A Saucy and Spicy Celebration

The Buffalo Wing Festival, or Wing Fest as it's more commonly known, held its 10th annual event this past Labor Day weekend at Coca-Cola field in downtown Buffalo.

In those 10 years, more than 137 tons of wings have been prepared and eaten by over 400,000 people. For only $5, attendees can sample wings from all across the country by purchasing food tickets, two tickets earning three wings.

From Brooklyn to Seattle, all the way up from Canada and down to Tennessee, restaurants travelled to the home of the chicken wing to showcase their unique take on the American classic.

Inspiration for the wing festival hailed from Hollywood and Bill Murray, better known as Frank Detorre from the film Osmosis Jones (2001). Murray's character in the movie heads to Buffalo, NY for a chicken wing festival, which was nonexistent at the time. When a Buffalo News journalist commented on the absence of such a festival, Drew Cerza, the Wing King, decided it was high time that Buffalo and its community came together to celebrate the number one appetizer in the world.

Wing lovers travel from all over the country to chow down on traditional flavors like medium, hot, and barbeque. John Baker and his family have been coming from California for the past five years to attend Wing Fest. Baker, along with New York native Charlie Digangi, were sporting the festival's distinctive chicken wing hat as they signed a waiver just to eat some of Quaker Steak and Lube's extremely hot wings.

Whoever can eat all three wings gets a free T-shirt, and Digangi and Baker proudly had those shirts slung over their shoulders after easily finishing the famous finger food.

If spicy isn't a personal favorite, it's no problem at Wing Fest. Everyone has a chance to sample some original flavors like Quaker Steak and Lube's Arizona Ranch and Thai R Cracker or Fire on the Mountain Buffalo Wings, out of Portland Oregon, and their Spicy Peanut Sauce wings.

The variety of live music was as savory as the wide range of flavors the restaurants offered. Alex Kawecki, a junior engineering student at UB, said that her favorite part of Wing Fest was "listening to the music," and in particular "The Elvis Impersonator, Terry Buchward."

Buchward was a great performer, playing not just the classic Elvis songs, but also other famous songs like Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl" and The Romantic's "What I Like About You." He was even able to get a conga line going.

Cook-offs, eating competitions, and even the Miss Buffalo Wing Pageant occurred throughout the day as well to keep the attendees entertained as they ate wing after wing. Couples were also able to get married on stage, an opportunity that a few actually took advantage of.

One particularly messy event had three competitors bobbing for chicken wings in a kiddy pool filled with bleu cheese. The contestants wore goggles and kept their hands behind their back as they plunged head first, finding as many wings as they could. The winner received a free T-shirt as a reward for their success.

Wing Fest had everything a festivalgoer could enjoy, including good food, good drinks, and good entertainment. Even a vegetarian could go and find things to eat. Falletta's Restaurant in East Amherst had some of the greatest cannoli and chocolate cupcakes. The Keurig brewer company also had a booth that gave out free samples of iced tea and coffee, which helped cool down the extremely hot and spicy day.

Since buffalo wings' creation by Frank and Teresa Bellisimo at the Anchor Bar, they've become not only a Buffalo favorite but a national one.

For students that attend UB or those just passing through, Wing Fest is definitely something a person needs to experience. Not only can buffalo wing lovers sample dozens of different restaurants from around the Buffalo area, but they also get to join in the celebration of one of the greatest culinary creations that came right from their backyard.





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