Chicken Wing Mecca: Take Ten
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • September 01, 2011 @ 11:39am
The Wing King has molded an unbeatable international event over the last decade. Drew Cerza, Buffalo’s chicken wing ambassador, hosts the Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival this weekend at Coca-Cola Field, complete with television stars and 50 tons of wings. The most impressive part, perhaps, is Buffalo’s place as “chicken wing Mecca,” drawing attendees from all 50 states and 36 countries in 2010.
“What the festival has done for the city is create some opportunities for people to come from out of town, come for the food they love — and that’s chicken wings — but also check out Buffalo, New York, and see what a great city we have,” Cerza said at the Wing Festival’s kickoff luncheon.
On Saturday (noon to 9 p.m.) and Sunday (noon to 7 p.m.), vendors from across the country outline the entire ballpark—from the dugouts to the outfield fence—lathering imported wings with delicious sauces. There are booths to acquire food tickets (each vendor varies in terms of cost per item: think Taste of Buffalo) so the lines aren’t backed up, and the thick aroma of wing sauce permeates the field. It’s a good thing the Bisons will have completed their home schedule by then, because chasing down a soft blooper while inhaling wing sauce remnants sounds gross.
If you’ve never been to the Wing Festival before, it’s the ideal place for messy eating sans humiliation. There are never enough napkins, and I’ve long stopped being self-conscious about kamikaze wing sauce dripping down my cheeks. It would be silly to don a nice white outfit—and don’t worry, we won’t haggle you for style photos (even though Buffalo looks GOOD). One piece of advice: make sure you arrive well-hydrated, as beverages are wildly overpriced, and the salty/spicy/absurdly hot foods encourage you to lust over a $4 water.
From the bold “try-everything-that-sounds-horridly-hot” eater to the person who’d rather make fun of messy folk while munching on a bag of Pop In Bob’s kettle corn, the Chicken Wing Festival is equally about celebrating an internationally-recognized prize of our city as it is testing the inner lining of our stomachs.