Disclosure: Basic Travel Couple, LLC has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Basic Travel Couple, LLC and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
If you know anything about Buffalo NY, you’ll know that Buffalonians take Chicken Wings Seriously! Basically Buffalo and Chicken Wings go hand-in-hand where you’ll find local wing joints from corner to corner. The main reason for this is that the Buffalo Wings were INVENTED in Buffalo back in 1964! The real claim to fame seems to be that Anchor Bar owners covered some fried chicken in the peppery buffalo sauce.
Best spot in Buffalo
There are many many great establishments in Buffalo. In fact, whenever we leave our sacred home town, we find that NOBODY makes wings like they do in Buffalo. If we find a place that EVER comes close, we usually find out that the owners are from Buffalo and know how to make a good Buffalo Wing. Some of our favorites are scattered all throughout Western New York.
In the Southtowns, you’ll find favorites like BarBill, Doc Sullivans and up north there are so many ties! We have Dwyers which is super close to us. Good ol’ 716 Food & Sport is conveniently located right downtown by the Sabres Arena. Lets also not forget about the hidden gem, Gabriels Gate. Then there is the famous Duffs versus Anchor Bar debate. This debate continues as they both have garnered national appeal for their take on the chicken wing.
With so many options, it’s only natural that Buffalo became the home of one of the largest Chicken Wing Festivals in the world! Thanks to Drew Cerza, known to the locals as the “Wing King” who first inaugurated the festival in 2002. Since its inception, there have been close to one million visitors from all 50 states and 34 different countries. According to the Chicken Wing Festival’s website, those participants consumed over 5 MILLION WINGS!
Here are the top 5 Reasons why we LOVE the Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival
5 – Value
The Buffalo Wing Festival will not break the bank! The admission cost is $5 and children (8 and under) get in for free. In order to purchase food from the vendors, you’ll need to grab food tickets which costs $1 per ticket. The rule of thumb for Wings is 1 ticket can be redeemed for 1 wing at each restaurant. In addition, there are other food options like perogies and pizza that require more tickets. Given that a single order of Wings often costs more than $10, I’d say that the value is definitely there!
4 – Fun vendors and freebies
A fun aspect of attending festivals is the different vendor options that offer freebies and wheel spins. The Buffalo Wing Festival had Geico, Franks Hot Sauce, Lyft, Well Now and more.
716 Food & Sport was also even handing out some super comfy seat cushions. We love visiting 716 when we are downtown! In fact, we have taken many out of town friends here for a great time!
We walked away with a full bottle of the famous Franks’ Hot Sauce and Sunglasses thanks to Frank’s, a local Buffalo favorite. Geico was even handing out goodie bags full of Coozies, a cute Gecko and T-Shirts.
Well Now was sure to take care of our health needs while eating all the chicken wings. Well Now ensured everyone had some wet wipes and sanitizer to clean up in between those delicious wing bites.
In addition, there is a full-fledged Buffalo Wing merchandise shop on site! Here, you can purchase a variety of chicken wing hats, ties, shirts, and other wing gear.
You can find all of your favorite Wing-Themed merchandise at Buffalowingwear.com!
3 – All of the Action
All weekend long there are different events and competitions taking place to keep you entertained! People come from all over the world to participate in these unique events like the “Sauce-off” and “Bobbing for Wings” (think bobbing for apples!).
Not to leave anyone out, there are also a few beauty pageants.
Miss Buffalo Wing, Little Miss wing, and the Best Baby Wing!
Miss Buffalo wing has a few requirements, including must be 15+, single, and female. All contestants are required to answer a few fun questions on stage. Winners will receive $300 and a sash, according to the contest rules at buffalowingfest.com
Little Miss Wing Pagent is for females ages 7-12. The winner will receive a sash and a $100 monetary award.
Lastly is the Baby wing! This is for contestants newborn to 4 years old. All children must be dressed in a chicken wing theme to participate! Winners will receive a medal and a Wingfest Prize Pack!
Fun Fact: in 2014 Lisa was actually a participant in the Miss Buffalo Wing competition!
Sadly, she didn’t win. She still had a great time as she watched her friend Jenna get crowned!
A handful of bands play throughout the day. There was even a 13-year-old DJ who apparently went to DJ school recently which I didn’t know existed!
One of the most anticipated events of the weekend is the Official United States Wing Eating Championship. This year Geoff Esper beat out Joey Chestnut for the win eating 281 Chicken Wings in 12 minutes!
Joey Chestnut has dominated on many occasions over the past 5 years. Winning for the first time in 2012 at 191 wings, his number of wings has gone up over the years! In fact, his record last year that hit a total of 220 wings!
Geoff Esper CRUSHED that record by an outstanding 61 wings. That is crazy as I cannot even imagine EATING 61 wings!
2 – Chicken Wing 5K
Is there a better way to prepare your body to eat loads of wings then to run 3.1 miles?
This is one of my favorite 5K races that I participate in. It truly is a fun-run! The cost to enter is $35 (which you can pay with a credit card because….points). With this fee, you receive an awesome T-Shirt, pre-admission into the festival, $5 in food tickets, Free Parking, and a free beer or soft drink.
We especially LOVE the pre-admission into the festival. It’s so nice to bypass the entry lines and get first dibs on all of the delicious wings! We were able to go to almost all of the vendors before a ton of long lines started. It really helped us be able to maximize our time at the National Buffalo Wingo Festival!
1 – WINGS!!!
Is it any surprise that WINGS comes in first place at the Buffalo Wing Festival?!
There is no doubt that you will find delicious options at the Buffalo Wing Festival. Any true wing lover would be hard-pressed to disagree with us. There were 26 restaurants from all over the world representing their take on the Wing. You are absolutely bound to walk away with a full stomach and that wing-itch thoroughly scratched.
This year the Buffalo Wing Festival hosted Orange Buffalo coming all away across the pond from London, England. They showcased their different flavors including the “woof woof” and “Viper XXX”.
If you’re a Buffalo Bills fan, you may have heard that Josh Allen the Bills quarterback’s favorite hometown wing restaurant made an appearance from Laramie, Wyoming. The Double Dubs sizzled my tastebuds with their famous “Habernero Mustard”!
Root and Bloom provided our vegetarian friends with options for getting their wing fix! These boneless look-a-alike wings came in with a handful of flavors ranging from traditional medium to peach habanero. Lisa especially loved the Veggie options, and they tasted like Boneless Wings also!
Fun fact too: This was the FIRST year they included vegetarian wings! This is super awesome for the veggie community and we hope to look forward to more inclusions next year!
I saved a handful of tickets to use at Boneheads based out West Warwick, RI. They showed up with a handful of delicious flavors like chicken parmigiana with the red tomato sauce on top, paradise city pineapple-BBQ (yum), and pump up the jam which tastes like peanut butter and jelly sandwich! I think my favorite was the Chicken Parmigiana out of this bunch. So good!
Buffalo Wing Fest even had a few special desert wings offered! These included the “Fluffernutter” brought to Buffalo from Tree’s Wings and Ribs in Royal Palm Beach Florida.
This wing looked way out of the left-field to me, but I just HAD to try it. BOY was I impressed.
It brings me back to my favorite childhood memories of fluffernutter & peanut butter. The chopped peanuts on top gave it a nice crunch too! Lisa actually licked the plate clean of the toppings.
Yes, it was that good.
If you’re on the fence about attending the Buffalo Wing Festival I hope that this review gives you the motivation to pull the trigger and attend in September 2020!
It is seriously NOT an event to miss.
If you are out of town, Buffalo has SO many great attractions! Niagara Falls is also only a 15-20 minute drive away! Be sure to check out our Basic Guide to Niagara Falls Article too for a day of activities there!
Lastly, I’d like to give a special shoutout to the “Wing King” Drew Cerza. He made all of this happen and cultivated an annual event in Western New York that brings people together from all over the world.
Thanks for reading and we better see everyone there next year!
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Disclosure: Basic Travel Couple, LLC has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Basic Travel Couple, LLC and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.