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New features to spice up Buffalo Wing Festival

The National Buffalo Wing Festival returns to Coca-Cola Field on Friday and Saturday with new features, including an emphasis on craft beer and off-beat wing flavors.

The festival’s 14th edition offers all of the main attractions from past years, led by the festival’s namesake nosh. There will be more than 30 chicken wing vendors, offering 120 flavors of chicken digits. Lloyd, the taco truck, will be selling a chicken wing taco.

This year local craft beer gets its own corner, with Resurgence, Big Ditch, Flying Bison and Community Beer Works pouring brews and offering suggestions for appropriate pairings.

Chefs will take the stage to stretch the definition of wing sauce with a Craft Wing Showcase featuring versions like peanut butter and jelly, and maple with bacon. Amateur cooks will have their chance to compete, too, in both traditional and creative categories.

The United States Chicken Wing Eating Championship, featuring top competitive eaters like title holder Joey Chestnut, Sonya Thomas and Miki Sudo, will start at 5 p.m. Sunday. As a sidecard, the Buffalo Buffet Bowl will feature eaters attacking five pounds of pizza, beef on weck, and other Buffalo favorites.

In an even messier vein, the Bobbing for Wings competition will involve people trying to retrieve wings from a kiddie pool filled with blue cheese dressing using only their mouths.

Admission is $5, and chicken wings are $1 each. Proceeds support charities like the Food Bank of WNY, Meals on Wheels and the Alzheimer’s Association Western New York chapter.

– Andrew Z. Galarneau