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2017 Wingfest features a 5K, a Buffalo Ninja Challenge and a Miss Buffalo Wing Pageant

By now, you may have noticed a good number of out of state license plates cruising around town. The uptick in visitors is due to the hoards of chicken wing lovers who have flocked to Buffalo to attend this weekend’s almighty Wingfest. For weeks, local and national chicken wing aficionados have been preparing for this big weekend. In fact, according to Mayor Brown and National Buffalo Wing Festival Founder Drew Cerza (lead image), last year’s event attracted 70,000+ attendees from all 50 states and 46 different countries. The attendees gobbled up wings prepared by 30 local, regional, national, and international eateries serving over 100 styles of chicken wings. 

“As the birthplace of the chicken wing, Buffalo pushes the celebration of the wing to greater heights every year with the National Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival. Now in its 16th year, it’s become a must-attend event for not only local residents, but wing fans from across the U.S., Canada and the world. I’m looking forward to another fantastic wing-filled weekend on September 2nd and 3rd,” said Mayor Brown.

View 2016 festival winners

A few of the festival offerings include competitive wing eating contests, amateur cook-offs, pageants, music, children’s entertainment and the “Bobbing for Wings” competition (in a vat of blue cheese). 

“Last year, we added many new features to the festival that were big hits with the crowd. This year we are fine tuning and expanding the offerings” said “Wing King” and festival founder, Drew Cerza.

There will also be a number of new activities and events for 2017. Here are some of the events that festival-goers are looking forward to:

Country Music

Saturday night will feature country music singer/songwriter from Nashville, by way of Buffalo, NY, Eric Van Houten. Eric has been performing and writing for almost 10 years now. At age 24, the high energy and emotion he puts on stage is the perfect blend for the Wingfest. His mini-concert will start at 7:30pm. Country band Ransomville will open be the opening act.

Buffalo Ninja Challenge

The Wingfest welcomes back the Buffalo Ninja Challenge. Building on NBC’s wildly popular American Ninja Warrior series, the National Buffalo Wing Festival will now offer those who think they’ve got what it takes the experience of becoming the ninja warrior on this very unique course.

New this year, all attendees can attempt the course for a $5 fee. The Buffalo Ninja Challenge is open to both kids and adults looking to compete on a five-station obstacle course—just like the ones seen on TV. Buffalo’s own American Ninja Warrior, Patrick Hall (Season 5), will serve as the host all weekend long.

VIP Party Deck

For those guests looking to upgrade their Buffalo Wing Festival experience, organizers are proud to present the VIP Party Deck located on Coca-Cola Stadium’s right field stands.

“This is a great way to experience the National Buffalo Wing Festival in style,” Cerza said. “And, we’ve made it easy to become an Official Festival VIP by offering online ticketing.”

For just $30, guests can get the royal treatment with festival admission, private seating, a free beverage, free wine and spirit sampling, private VIP cash bar, a commemorative “Wingfest Great Plate and cup,” $5 off a festival t-shirt, and an official Wingfest VIP badge. New this year will be chicken wing offerings right on the party deck for VIP’s convenience.

Rest n’ Place On-Field Seating

Again this year, the National Buffalo Wing Festival will offer guests the opportunity to enjoy their wings from underneath a large tent that stretches from 2nd to 3rd base thanks to the generous support of Northtown Toyota. The Rest n’ Place On-Field Seating will extend from third base to second base on the main in field and is open to all festival-goers.

Misting Stations

The record summertime temps will be no match for festival-goers this year, as the event will feature a 20- foot by 30-foot misting tent sponsored by Northeast Mechanical.

The 2nd Annual Chicken Wing 5K

Now in its second year, the Chicken Wing 5K in downtown Buffalo on Sept. 3 at 11 a.m. Sponsored by Buffalo News, the race takes runners on a scenic 3.1-mile circular route that winds through downtown Buffalo and beyond – view race map here. “Our race route takes participants through the Inner Harbor—an area that perfectly blends the beauty of old Buffalo with the promise of the city’s future,” Cerza said.

Wings, Wings & Wings

“The 2017 lineup of restaurants and eateries is shaping up to be impressive with five new restaurants coming in from as far as Portland, Oregon. Twenty-Eight (28) food booths including 19 wing eateries will be serving over 100 different styles of wings as well as additional “Buffalo Style” favorite foods.

– Several years ago, the festival started the tradition of welcoming an international wing vendor to highlight the explosion of the Buffalo chicken wing around the globe (last year’s was from Australia). This year, the festival welcomes “Wings Army” all the way from Mexico.

– The wing restaurants will compete in the annual National Sauce-Off Competition for bragging rights to the best wing sauces in America. The competition includes eight different categories of wing styles including traditional medium, hot and extra-hot as well as creative, traditional BBQ, creative BBQ, creative sweet and creative spicy.

For a full line-up of participating eateries, visit

Consumer’s Beverages Craft Beer Corner

After last year’s success, the festival will welcome back local craft beers inside the Consumer’s Beverages Craft Beer Corner. Local craft brewers including Resurgence Brewing Co., Big Ditch Brewing Company, Flying Bison Brewing Company and Community Beer Works will be pouring more than 15 different styles of beer all weekend. Better yet, brewery representatives will be on hand to talk about craft beer and wing pairings.

World-Class Competitive Eating

One of the annual highlights of the festival weekend is the United States Chicken Wing Eating Championship presented by Atwal Eye Care. This popular event, sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating, happens Sept. 3 at 5pm. This year, the competition takes on epic proportions as top-ranked competitive eater Joey Chestnut returns to defend his title. Last year, Chestnut devoured 188 wings in 12 minutes to take the title. Crowd favorite and five-time Wingfest World Champion Sonya Thomas will be on hand to battle the field.

In addition to the U.S. Chicken Wing Eating Championship, the pros compete in the Buffalo Buffet Bowl on Sept. 2 at 5:30pm. The battle challenges eaters to consume five pounds of some of Buffalo’s favorite foods including pizza and roast beef on weck.

Other wing-eating competitions during the festival include the Frank’s RedHot Amateur Chicken Wing Eating Contest, Hot Wing Eating Contest with wings from “Wing’s Army”, and the College Wing Eating Competition.

Celebrating the Original Wing Sauce – Amateur Sauce-off Competition

The competitions aren’t just limited to the professionals at Wingfest, as the original wing sauce, Frank’s RedHot looks to crown the top amateur wing-cooks in the Traditional Wing Sauce-off and Creative Wing Sauce-off.

Other Wing-rific Fun

In addition, the festival will present a collection of pageants including the Miss Buffalo Wing Pageant (women 18+ years) and the Baby Wing Contest (children 0-4 years).

– Festival-goers can compete in (or watch) the famous Bobbing for Wings competition in which participants dunk their heads into kiddie pools filled with blue cheese dressing to retrieve as many of the 100 chicken wings as possible within three minutes using only their mouths.

– This year’s entertainment lineup includes master of ceremonies “Quiz Master” Dennis George, as well as one of Buffalo’s favorite blues bands, The Heavenly Chillbillies who’ll liven up the festival with blues music throughout the weekend.


Admission is $5. Children eight years and younger are free, courtesy of KeyBank. The festival bene ts Alzheimer’s Association Western New York Chapter, Food Bank of WNY and Meals on Wheels for Western New York Inc. The festival has raised more than $350,000 since its inception in 2002.

2017 Wingfest

Labor Day Weekend in Buffalo, NY

Saturday, Sept. 2nd noon – 9pm

Sunday, Sept. 3rd noon – 7pm

Coca-Cola Field | Buffalo, NY

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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