Share this article

print logo

Heading to National Buffalo Wing Festival? Here's what you need to know.

There is no other place in the world (we checked) where people bob their heads in a vat of blue cheese, bobbing for chicken wings.

Welcome to the National Buffalo Wing Festival.

The festival, which has been happening for 17 years, was inspired by the 2001 comedy “Osmosis Jones” starring Bill Murray. Murray’s character, a chronic junk-food-eater, strived to attend a wing festival in Buffalo. At the time, the festival was only fiction. “Wing King” Drew Cerza then decided to make it a reality.

If you're among the 50,000 people organizers expect at the fest this weekend planning to eat a few wings — or watch someone else eat 200 wings — here's what you'll need to know:

Where: Coca-Cola Field, 275 Washington St.

When: Noon to 9 p.m. Saturday; noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.

Prices: Admission is $5. Children 8 and younger enter free. Purchase food tickets for $1 a piece; costs vary by vendor. Tickets are required for everything except beverages, which are cash only.

You can't bring any outside beverages, including water, into the festival. Three ATMs are on site.

Parking: Expect to pay $10 to $20 to park in ramps or lots surrounding Coca-Cola Field. Street parking is limited. Parking at UB’s lot in University Heights and taking the train downtown is also an option.

Vendors: Restaurants compete for a handful of titles, including “Festival Favorite,” “Best in Show Wing” and a leading place in the “Restaurant Sauce-Off.”

Aside from wing vendors, others will be there, including Perry's Ice Cream and Pop N. Bob's kettle corn.

Duff's has offered Dr. Pepper BBQ wings at previous festivals. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Contests and competitions: Chicken wings are competitive; making them, eating them, dressing like them, bobbing around in some blue cheese for them.

There are five wing eating contests, two amateur cook-offs, two pageants, bobbing for wings and a “baby wing” competition featuring “wing-themed” toddlers and children.

If any of those sound appealing enough to try, you can still sign up to compete.

A Chicken Wing 5k race guides runners through Buffalo, all in the name of wings. $35 registration fee includes a T-shirt, admission to the festival, $5 of food tickets, a free drink and parking in The Buffalo News lot on Scott Street.

Here’s a full event schedule. The U.S. Chicken Wing Eating Championship is the final event. It takes place at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Advice: Reigning champion Joey Chestnut ate 220 wings last year. News Food Editor Andrew Z. Galarneau warns that if you like chicken wings, don’t watch people cram 200 of them into their stomachs — it will ruin them for you.

What VIPs get: A $30 VIP ticket includes admission, a beverage, a commemorative cup and plate, $5 coupon toward a T-shirt, free beverage tastings, a private cash bar, private seating and a VIP badge.

"World's Coolest Bachelor Party": Inspired by Buffalo native Jason Tartick's recent appearance on "The Bachelorette," men 21 and older who plan to get married within a year can sign up to have their bachelor party at the festival and compete for the ultimate prize of a year of free beer. The bachelor and four of his friends will receive VIP tickets, free Labatt beer and a bucket of 50 wings.

Whoever best documents their party on social media for all their friends to see (including any after-party bar-hopping, judges say) wins a year's supply of Labatt Blue courtesy of Cerza himself, equating to a six-pack a week. Only 17 wedding parties can participate, so sign up fast.

With goggles on, contestants pull wings out of a kiddie pool filled with blue cheese dressing. (Sharon Cantillon/News file photo)

For kids: A Buffalo Ninja Warrior Challenge course gives children an opportunity to jump, run, climb and swing through a challenging adventure course.

For a good cause: In its 17 years, Wing Fest has raised over $325,000 for local charities, including Meals on Wheels, Food Bank of Western New York and Alzheimer’s Association Western New York chapter.

Seating: Ideal conditions for consuming blazing wings don't generally include standing in the blazing sun. After visitors' feedback, organizers added more seating under a giant tent that goes from second to third base.

Fun fact: Back to bobbing for wings. Contestants aren’t allowed to use their hands and must dunk their face in a kiddie pool of blue cheese to find as many wings as possible. To participate, hopeful contestants fill out a form detailing why they want to be a part of this contest. All for a medal and a T-shirt. Winner, wear it proudly.

Story topics: / / / / /

There are no comments - be the first to comment