A Saucy, Zesty Time at the Annual National Buffalo Wing Festival
To blue cheese or not to blue cheese? That was the question I asked upon seeing the Marie’s Blue Cheese station during the 11th Annual National Buffalo Wing Festival over Labor Day weekend. Seeing as it was pushing 80-something degrees and with ice was nowhere in sight, I imagine the creamy dressing was sitting in the danger zone. No problem, I opted to enjoy my wings in their purist form, sans blue cheese.
It was no coincidence my trip home to Buffalo was the same weekend as the annual festival paying homage to Western New York’s favorite poultry product. For years I’ve heard about the event and finally this year, the Earth, moon and stars aligned with my work schedule allowing me to fly up for the weekend. A direct flight on Allegiant from Punta Gorda Airport (PGD) to Niagara Falls International Airport (IAG) helped, too.
Chicken Wing Festival Roundup
Although a scorcher outside, my parents and high school friend “AH” munched our way through the second day of the festival at Coca-Cola Field (where the city’s minor league baseball team, Buffalo Bisons play) in downtown Buffalo. In addition to a feast of wings, there was live entertainment including musical performances, chicken wing eating contests and Miss Buffalo Wing Pageant.
Companies as Green Mountain Coffee, Seven-Eleven, UV Vodka, Barefoot Wines, Snyder’s of Hanover and Yancy’s Fancy gave away samples and other goodies. I gave myself a manicure the night before, painting my nails the color of Frank’s RedHot sauce, which happened to be the official hot sauce of the festival.
Let the Wing Feast Begin
As for the wings, large jumbo chicken wings were $1 a piece. I’m not sure what a regular sized wing looks like but the large jumbo ones at the festival were a bit pathetic.
Thousands of people turned out and we stood in line together hoping to taste something new and spectacular. One can only eat so many wings and I ended up trying wings from four restaurants in addition to tasting chicken wing soup. Here’s a list of what I tried:
Anchor Bar (Buffalo) – Sadly, these were my least favorite of the day. I asked for a Medium and BBQ but both wings looked and tasted the same. They were dry, chewy and didn’t have much meat. For those in the know, the Anchor Bar boasts to be home to the original chicken wing. Let’s hope I had a bad batch.
Fire on the Mountain (Portland, Ore.) – O-M-G! The Whiskey Pomegranate BBQ had the perfect balance of sweet, savory and saucy. This tent also had the longest line for wings.
Quaker State & Lube (U.S. & Canada) – It’s no wonder they took home the Festival Favorite award because their Thai Curry and Mango Habanera wings were a luscious zest of flavor with attitude. The Mango Habanera wing was my festival favorite.
Smokey Bones Bar & Grille (Cheektowaga, N.Y.) – Sweet and meat. Need I say more? That describes the Memphis, Brown Sugar wing which would make a great dessert. The Buf-a-que was a nice combo of, well, traditional Buffalo wing sauce and barbecue.
Over at Danny’s Restaurant (Buffalo) – I didn’t try any wings but despite the heat, I slurped up a cup of creamy Buffalo Wing Soup. It sounded strange so I had to taste it yet ya know what? It was quite tasty. A bit spicy but hearty and had a nice chicken wing flavor.
Ah, the power of the mighty wing to tame a wild appetite. Not sure when I’ll be back in Buffalo but at least locally I have Buffalo Wild Wings and Buffalo Wings & Things to satisfy my wing cravings.
Have you attended the National Buffalo Wing Festival? What’s your favorite food festival?