One of the best things about living in upstate New York is the quality of chicken wings. Hot, mild, sweet, spicy, garlicy, even aphrodisiac-ly, when you live near Buffalo, you live near the capital of unique and definitive chicken wing flavors. So when I was personally invited to attend the 2016 National Buffalo Wing Festival with the promise of free wings, I didn’t have to think twice.
I could smell the flavors as soon as we parked. The aroma of grilled chicken carcass emanated through the streets of Buffalo around Coca-Cola field. Hundreds of people slogged forward in zombie-like trances as they salivated for bird meat. I had never walked through a city so devoid of pigeons before. Even they must have been terrified at the slaughter of their avian brethren.
As soon as we entered the venue, I couldn’t help but notice the animated fervor of everyone attending. I didn’t know there was such a thing as chicken wing cosplay before. People decked out in chicken outfits, Tabasco sauce bottle costumes, and chicken wing hats that looked like phallic aberrations with a serious skin disease.
Going past the many beer tents, ticket booths, and ninja warrior competitions we came upon the center of the Coca-Cola baseball field. The entire perimeter was surrounded by vendor tents and booths with many sporting hour long waits. At this time it was three hours into the festival and I overheard one vendor say that they had already gone through 4,000 wings! Considering there were over 25 booths, if each had the same rate of success that would equate to over 100,000 wings devoured or 25,000 chickens inflamed in seasoned goodness.
Yet, there appeared to be one participant who wouldn’t commit to the poultry genocide. As we found ourselves feasting by one tent, my friend overheard a girl complaining that, of all things, she didn’t eat meat! Like a member of PETA suddenly realizing they’re on an African hunting safari, I would venture to say that this girl was either very confused, kidding, or had grown delirious after eating a chicken wing at the booth with the flaming, decidedly unhappy skull on it.
Perhaps a sign of the glutinous nature of our society or Exhibit A in the case of the obesity epidemic, it was, overall, a fun event. With a crazy variety of flavors (including one booth that had what I can only assume to be a chicken Cesar salad wing – croutons and all!) and drinks to boot, there was something for everyone. Well everyone except vegetarians…and pigeons apparently.