BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Coca-Cola Field has been empty since the Bisons wrapped up their season earlier this week, but by noon on Saturday, the stands will be full again. Not with baseball fans, but with chicken wing fans. More than 70,000 of them are expected to visit during the two day National Buffalo Wing Festival. Their mission? To eat thirty tons of wings.
“Every year I have a recurring nightmare is, oh my god, I forgot to order the chicken wings,” Festival Founder and Wing King Drew Cerza said earlier this week. “I hope somebody did.”
Somebody sure did. All 60 thousand pounds of wings arrived on Thursday, and now they are being held under lock and key at the ballpark. Cerza, meanwhile, is as fired up as ever. This year’s event has a craft wing theme.
“We’ve got such a great craft beer industry and craft cocktails, we’re marrying them together with chicken wings,” he explained.
But not all of the flavors are local. Lots of vendors here come from out of town, like Andrew LiButi, who owns Booty’s Bar in Phoenix, Arizona.
“This is our third year here at the wing festival, and it’s just a great time,” he said. “We come to show people that even in Arizona you’re going to get the best wings in the country.
Also traveling to Buffalo this weekend: pro eaters like Wing Eating Champion Joey Chestnut — here to defend his title.
“It culminates at 5 o’clock Sunday, with the championship on this main stage. The eaters are great. You want to get here early. Go shake their hands, meet them, it’s like a little meet and greet.”
On top of the taste testing and the wing eating contests, the Wing Festival also raises money for local charities. This year’s recipients are Meals on Wheels, the Alzheimer Association, and the Food Bank of Western New York. The festival runs Saturday from noon until 9pm and Sunday from noon until 9pm.