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Hot, margarita or maple bacon? Buffalo Wing Festival back for 17th year

Once again, chicken wings will be devoured by the masses on another Labor Day weekend in Buffalo.

More than 25 local, regional, national and international restaurants and eateries will be serving up the Queen City cuisine for the 2018 National Buffalo Wing Festival.

From traditional wing flavors to maple bacon, whiskey pomegranate BBQ, blackberry brandy and margarita, all kinds of wing styles to satisfy practically every taste bud will be available.

The festival, which attracts more than 70,000 visitors from all 50 states and 44 countries, will welcome seven new participating restaurants, said festival founder Drew Cerza, who joined Mayor Byron W. Brown Tuesday on the steps of City Hall to host a kickoff party for the annual event.

The festival has "become a must-attend event for local residents and wing fans from across the U.S., Canada and the world," Brown said.

New this year, the event will host “The World’s Coolest Bachelor Party” based on Buffalo native Jason Tartick and his hometown being featured recently in this season of ABC’s “The Bachelorette.” Tartick – who finished third – and Becca Kufrin ate chicken wings at the Anchor Bar and played hockey at the HarborCenter in an episode that included shots of Delaware Park, City Hall, the Buffalo History Museum, the Peace Bridge and Niagara Falls.

The bachelor party is open to men 21 and older who are getting married within the next 12 months. The first 17 bachelors to sign up will receive a party in Buffalo, including a free bucket of 50 wings and a prize package from Labatt beer.

The group that documents through social media “the coolest bachelor party” also will receive free Labatt Blue beer for one year provided by “Wing King” Cerza.

“That’s a six-pack a week,” he said.

Six groups have signed up already from Springfield, Ill; Butler, Pa.; Evans City, Pa.; Manitoba, Canada; Rochester; and Jamestown, Cerza said.

Returning to the festival is the annual United States Chicken Wing Eating Championship with reigning champion Joey Chestnut, who consumed a record 212 wings in winning last year, coming back to retain his title.

Other activities returning this year include the mechanical chicken wing ride and the Buffalo Ninja Challenge, based on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” series. There also will be live music, activities for children, a best wing sauce competition and Miss Buffalo Wing pageant.

The Buffalo Wing Festival has raised more than $365,000 for local charities over the past 16 years. This year’s beneficiaries include Alzheimer’s Association Western New York Chapter, Food Bank of WNY and Meals on Wheels for Western New York.

The festival will be held at Coca-Cola Field, 275 Washington St., from noon to 9 p.m. Sept. 1 and from noon to 7 p.m. Sept 2.

Admission is $5 per day. Children under 8 are free. Tickets are available at the gate.

Food tickets must be purchased at the festival for $1 each. The tickets are used to purchase all food items. Outside beverages will not be permitted inside the festival. Soda, water, beer and wine must be purchased with cash through stadium vendors on the field.

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