It’s hard to imagine a place where a beauty pageant, cook-off, 5k run and a kiddie pool filled with blue cheese would all come together, but this year’s National Buffalo Wing Festival had all these events and more.
Believe it or not, the festival which has become a Buffalonian staple in just 16 short years, was inspired by a movie called Osmosis Jones. In the movie, Bill Murray’s character goes to a then-fictional event – The National Buffalo Wing Festival – calling it “the Superbowl of junk food.”
In 2002 native Buffalonian Drew Cerza was able to make this fictional event a reality, and it has only grown since. Now, the festival attracts tens of thousands of people from every state in the U.S. and from dozens of countries. This year, the event even played host to “Wings Army” a restaurant that came all the way from Mexico to participate.
Even competitors in events like the amateur sauce cook-offs were from as far as Idaho and Washington state and one contestant who donned goggles and dove face-first into a pool filled with blue cheese sauce to bob for chicken wings was from Japan.
This year Joey Chestnut, the man ranked first in the world by Major league Eating, appeared at the Buffalo Wing Festival to defend his title. This year, the reigning champion ate 220 wings in 12 minutes, 2 more than last year. What’s even better – proceeds from this competition benefit Meals on Wheels of WNY.
The festival also featured a Buffalo Ninja challenge obstacle course that was hosted by Patrick Hall, Buffalo’s very own American Ninja Warrior, as well as the second annual Chickenwing 5k run.
When people weren’t watching or participating in special events, they were walking from vendor to vendor to sample some of the world’s best chicken wings. Old favorites like Anchor Bar set up shop around the periphery of Coca-Cola field, joined by 27 other restaurants traveling from as far as Portland, Oregon and Mexico and serving over 100 different flavors of chicken wings.
Whether it was a classic hot wing or Singapore Chili sauce, there was something for everyone at Coca-Cola field this weekend, and the Buffalo Dinner Club staff can’t wait to go again next year!