How do you like your chicken wings: sweet and sticky, or spicy and hot? At the sixth annual Wing Fling in Saugerties this Sunday, May 20, you can have ‘em both ways and then some.
Several thousand attendees are expected to flock to the Kiwanis Ice Arena at Cantine Field to savor chicken wings made in every variation imaginable, and then cast a vote for their favorite to win the title “Best Chicken Wings in the Hudson Valley.” At last year’s Wing Fling, Catskill Mountain Catering won that honor for the second year in a row. This time around, it’ll defend the title against competitors like Dutch Ale House, Hickory Barbecue & Smokehouse, Home Plate Deli, American Glory, the Spencer Daniels agency, Mariner’s on the Hudson, J & J Concessions, Charlie O’s Bar & Grill, Rainbow Drive-in, Adams Fairacre Farms, Tony’s Grilled Pizza and the Reggae Boy Café, among others.
Competitors of another kind will serve as celebrity judges. Saugerties’ own Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) featherweight champion Joey “Raging Warrior” Gambino and MMA featherweight contender Dennis “the Menace” Bermudez (also from Saugerties) will decide “Best Hot,” “Best Barbecue,” “Best Mild,” “Best Garlic” and “Best Exotic” wings. The guys will be available for photo ops, too, according to Patty Deegan of the Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce, which is putting on the event.
Deegan says that the inspiration for Wing Fling came from past Chamber board president Tom Lindgren, when a few years back, while visiting North Carolina, he discovered a similar event being held there. “The Chamber was looking for ways to fundraise for all the programs they sponsor,” says Deegan, “so the Wing Fling was born.”
The event will include live music by Mister Kick, the Big Shoe and (continuing the theme of Saugerties homegrown talent) teenager and blues-influenced guitarist and singer Connor Kennedy with his band: “different types of fun festival music for all tastes,” says Deegan. Live radio coverage will be provided by Bob Miller of WBPM 92.9.
The Wing Fling will have a lot of activities for children, Deegan says, like the giant inflatable obstacle course that was popular at last year’s event, an inflatable jousting challenge and a new addition this year: the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse bouncy house. There’ll be face-painting, a place to make sand art and a balloon-toss game, all included with the price of admission, says Deegan. At the center of the party, though, will be those chicken wings.
Of course, people have eaten chicken wings as long as they’ve eaten chicken; but the zesty variety served with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing was supposedly invented at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo in 1964. One version of the story has it that, when the son of the owners of the place showed up hungry with some college friends late one night, and there wasn’t much left to eat in the restaurant, some chicken wings that had been set aside to make chicken stock out of were thrown in the deep-fryer and then coated with hot sauce. The celery sticks and bleu cheese dressing came into it as what the boys are said to have eaten while they waited for the wings to be done.
There won’t be any waiting for chicken wings around here on Sunday, May 20 at the Wing Fling at the Cantine Field Complex at the Kiwanis Ice Arena on Washington Avenue in Saugerties from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine. Admission is $5 in advance or $6 on the day of the event, $2 for children ages 6 to 12, and children age 5 and under are admitted free. Cash is accepted at all booths for purchase of food. Advance tickets are available from the primary sponsor, Naccarato Insurance, at 100 Ulster Avenue in Saugerties; from Sawyer Savings Bank, at 87 Ulster Avenue in Saugerties; Sawyer Motors at 166 Ulster Avenue in Saugerties; Timely Signs at 154 Clinton Avenue in Kingston; or the Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce at 214 Fair Street in Kingston. For more information, call the Chamber at (845) 338-5100 or visit www.ulsterchamber.org.