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`Wing King` Drew Cerza (Photo courtesy of Cerza/The National Buffalo Wing Festival)
"Wing King" Drew Cerza (Photo courtesy of Cerza/The National Buffalo Wing Festival)

National Buffalo Wing Festival returns for 17th year


Thu, Aug 23rd 2018 12:15 pm
The National Buffalo Wing Festival, one of the country's most beloved food festivals, returns to Coca-Cola Field in Buffalo on Sept. 1-2 to celebrate its 17th year. The festival, which attracted 50,000-plus attendees from all 50 states and 44 different countries last year, will feature more than 25 local, regional, national and international eateries serving over 100 styles of chicken wings, as well as other festival favorite foods.
The Wingfest has become a top destination for wing lovers across the world over the years. Now, the festival is looking to become one of the premier bachelor party destinations. For the first time ever, the Wingest will host "The World's Coolest Bachelor Party." Buffalo was recently featured on ABC's "The Bachelorette." In the segment, festival founder and "Wing King" Drew Cerza hosted an eating contest for one of America's most eligible bachelors, Buffalo's very own Jason Tartick, and beloved bachelorette Becca Kufrin.
Cerza said, "Online media websites like Thrillist.com and TheManual.com consider Buffalo's bachelor party status as one of the most underrated. The Manual says a "go-big-or-go-home" mentality has led many a best man down the well-meaning path of bachelor party-planning failure. While classic destinations like Vegas or South Beach guarantee an over-the-top night to remember, they're also ludicrously expensive and predictable. There's no denying Buffalo is experiencing a huge resurgence. Why not broaden your horizons to one of the most underrated bachelor-party-worthy cities in America?
"The festival is a perfect venue for a bachelor party. It's a gathering for everyone to enjoy Buffalo's greatest hits: beer, fun and wings. Bachelors can hang out at the festival during the day and catch Buffalo's great party scene at night."
Registration for the "World's Coolest Bachelor" party is open to men 21 years of age and older who are getting married in the next 12 months. Seventeen bachelors will be selected to receive VIP status, granting them "Wing King" treatment for the day, including a free bucket of wings and a prize package from Labatt. Bachelors can sign up at www.buffalowing.com.
Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said, "As the birthplace of the chicken wing, Buffalo pushes the celebration of the wing to greater heights every year via the National Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival. Now in its 17th year, it's become a must-attend event for local residents and wing fans from across the U.S., Canada and the world. I'm looking forward to another fantastic wing-filled weekend on Sept. 1 and 2."
Festival Features
•Mechanical Chicken Wing: Back by popular demand, the mechanical chicken wing ride will be back at the Wingfest. Similar to a mechanical bull ride - except shaped in the form of a chicken wing - attendees can challenge their friends and see if they can ride like a real cowboy. The ride is enclosed in a large, cushioned plastic pool to ensure safety for all riders. It is speed-controlled based on the age of the rider. Prizes will be given to the five riders who last the longest on the wing.
•International Restaurants: This year, the festival will have two international restaurants: Sticky Wings from London will be a first-time visitor, while Wing's Army from Mexico will be back by popular demand for the second year in a row.
•Buffalo Ninja Challenge: The Wingfest welcomes back the Buffalo Ninja Challenge. Building on NBC's wildly popular "American Ninja Warrior" series, the National Buffalo Wing Festival will now offer those who think they've got what it takes the experience of becoming the ninja warrior on this very unique course. New this year, all attendees can attempt the course for a $5 fee. The Buffalo Ninja Challenge is open to both kids and adults looking to compete on a five-station obstacle course - just like the ones seen on TV. Buffalo's own "American Ninja Warrior," Patrick Hall (season five), will serve as the host all weekend long.
•VIP Party Deck: For those guests looking to upgrade their Buffalo Wing Festival experience, organizers are proud to present the VIP party deck located on Coca-Cola Stadium's right field stands.
"This is a great way to experience the National Buffalo Wing Festival in style," Cerza said. "And, we've made it easy to become an official festival VIP by offering online ticketing."
For $30, guests can get the royal treatment with festival admission, private seating, a free beverage, free wine and spirit sampling, private VIP cash bar, a commemorative "Wingfest Great Plate" and cup, $5 off a festival T-shirt, and an official Wingfest VIP badge. New this year will be chicken wing offerings right on the party deck for each VIP's convenience.
3rd Annual Chicken Wing 5K
Now in its third year, the Chicken Wing 5K in downtown Buffalo (11 a.m. Sunday) takes runners on a scenic, 3.1-mile circular route that winds through downtown Buffalo and beyond. (View race map here.)
"Our race route takes participants through the Inner Harbor, an area that perfectly blends the beauty of old Buffalo with the promise of the city's future," Cerza said.
Wings, Wings & Wings
The 2018 lineup of restaurants and eateries is shaping up to be impressive with seven new restaurants coming in from as far as Portland, Oregon. Twenty-eight food booths, including 19 wing eateries, will serve more than 100 different styles of wings, as well as additional "Buffalo-style" favorite foods.
The festival will feature two international restaurants for the first time.
The wing restaurants will compete in the annual National Sauce-Off Competition for bragging rights to the best wing sauces in America. The competition includes eight different categories of wing styles, including traditional medium, hot and extra-hot, as well as creative, traditional barbecue, creative barbecue, creative sweet and creative spicy.
Craft Beer Corner
After last year's success, the festival will welcome back local craft beers inside the Consumer's Beverages Craft Beer Corner. Local craft brewers including Resurgence Brewing Co., Big Ditch Brewing Company, Flying Bison Brewing Company and Community Beer Works will pour more than 15 different styles of beer all weekend. Moreover, brewery representatives will be on hand to talk about craft beer and wing pairings.
World-Class Competitive Eating
One of the annual highlights of the festival weekend is the U.S. Chicken Wing Eating Championship. This popular event, sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating, happens at 5 p.m. Sunday. This year, the competition takes on epic proportions as top-ranked competitive eater Joey Chestnut returns to defend his title. Last year, Chestnut devoured 188 wings in 12 minutes to take the title. Crowd favorite and five-time Wingfest world champion Sonya Thomas will be on hand to battle the field.
In addition, the pros will compete in the Russell's Buffalo Buffet Bowl at 6 p.m. Saturday. The battle challenges eaters to consume five pounds of some of Buffalo's favorite foods, including pizza and roast beef on weck.
Other wing-eating competitions during the festival include the Frank's RedHot Amateur Chicken Wing Eating Contest, Hot Wing Eating Contest with wings from Wing's Army, and the College Wing Eating Competition.
Celebrating the Original Wing Sauce/Amateur Sauce-off Competition
The competitions aren't just limited to the professionals at Wingfest, as the original wing sauce, Frank's RedHot, looks to crown the top amateur wing-cooks in the Traditional Wing Sauce-off and Creative Wing Sauce-off.
Other Wing-rific Fun
•In addition, the festival will present a collection of pageants, including the Miss Buffalo Wing Pageant (women 16 and older) and the Baby Wing Contest (children up to 4 years of age).
•Festivalgoers can compete in (or watch) the famous Bobbing for Wings competition in which participants dunk their heads into kiddie pools filled with blue cheese dressing to retrieve as many of the 100 chicken wings as possible within three minutes using only their mouths.
•This year's entertainment lineup includes master of ceremonies "Quiz Master" Dennis George, as well as one of Buffalo's favorite blues bands, The Heavenly Chillbillies, who'll liven up the festival with blues music throughout the weekend.
Admission is $5. Children ages 8 years and younger are free, courtesy of Shipt. The festival benefits Alzheimer's Association Western New York Chapter, Food Bank of WNY and Meals on Wheels for Western New York Inc. The festival has raised more than $365,000 since its inception in 2002.
The National Buffalo Wing Festival hours are noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, and noon until 7 p.m. Sunday. The event takes place at Coca-Cola Field, 275 Washington St., Buffalo. To learn more, visit BuffaloWing.com or follow along at www.facebook.com/BuffaloWingFestival, @WingFest and by using the hashtag #WingFest18.

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