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National Chicken Wing Festival features Buffalo's best, adventurous flavors

More than 20 restaurants from Buffalo, and even a few from around the country, give flavor to 20 tons of wings. There are 80 different sauces you can try.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — An event sure to draw up a lot of attention is the National Chicken Wing Festival, which kicked off Saturday. 

The two-day festival celebrating our region's favorite food is over at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park for the first time this year. 

It seems fitting this year's festival is combining Buffalo's love of both wings and the Bills. It really was an opportunity for people from other states to see that too.

On Day 1, people from more than 30 states were at this year’s Wing Fest. More than 20 restaurants from Buffalo, and even a few from around the country, are flavoring 20 tons of wings here with 80 different sauces you can try. 

The festival started two decades ago because founder and 'Wing King' Drew Cerza saw the film "Osmosis Jones," and Bill Murray's character wanted to come to the Buffalo Wing Festival.

However, there wasn't one. 

After being put on pause last year because of COVID, Cerza says he's just glad to have it back. 

“It feels like Christmas morning. It really does,” Cerza said. “You take a year off, and it's like last year, Santa Claus never came and Christmas is back on. Just seeing all the people here, and so many regulars who are so happy to have a wing fest again and to have events."

Billy Finnerty brought his Finnerty Tap Room, located in Ellicottville, to the festival for the first time this year. 

Of the three wing sauces he's offering, there’s a mild, spicy, and even a blueberry chipotle barbecue wing, which seems to be the most popular among wing lovers. 

"We take blueberries and we break them down, and obviously with the Ellicottville Brewery and their big beer being the blueberry beer, which is incredible beer that we all have had, we kind of thought that would be a cool focus with Ellicottville, and it has. It's been a huge seller right now,” Finnerty said. 

Big-name competitive eaters such as Joey Chestnut and Mickey Sudo are in Buffalo to compete in the Buffalo Buffet Bowl, which got underway Saturday. On Sunday at 5 p.m., they will try to eat as many wings as they can in 12 minutes.

If you missed the festival Saturday, it will continue Sunday from noon to 7 p.m.

Part of the proceeds from your general admission ticket is going to FeedMore Western New York.

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