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Great weather, growing popularity of Wing Festival helps break record

Warm weather and hot wings attracted a record 91,861 people from 49 states and more than 20 countries over the weekend to the Buffalo Wing Festival at the downtown home of the Buffalo Bisons.

"It was a great, great weekend," said festival organizer Drew Cerza.

And a gut-busting one, too.

The festival sold 40 tons of chicken wings, up from 27 tons last year, due in large part to a big increase in attendance over last year's two-day total of 78,000.

A large map with pins near the festival's entrance noting where attendees hail from told the story of the festival's growing appeal. While pins were clustered in the Northeast, they touched on every state but Arkansas. Post-it notes listed other countries, from as far away as Kenya, China and New Zealand.

Cerza said the festival is a good calling card for the region, saying the many out-of-town visitors "are leaving with a good impression."

Buffalo firefighters spent the weekend collecting money for the families of Lt. Charles "Chip" McCarthy and Firefighter Jonathan Croom. Daniel Cunningham, president of the Buffalo Professional Firefighters Union, said festival-goers contributed $10,000 on Saturday, and then an anonymous donor pledged $30,000. No figure was available for donations made Sunday.

The festival featured more than 100 styles of wings from more than 30 vendors. This year marked the eighth year of the event.

e-mail: jheaney@buffnews.com

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