Each year, WingFest draws hungry visitors to Tussey Mountain, ready to chow down and vote for the best wings in the area. After last year’s record-setting attendance, great bands, fantastic weather, a first-ever tie in one of the opening rounds and finally the delicious wings served up by 2017 champion Kelly’s Steak and Seafood, how can this event continue to up the ante in 2018? Tussey Mountain marketing director Aaron Weyman said they have a few things in mind to continue attracting the masses.
“To accommodate some of those large crowds ... we’re going to add a second entrance this year on the other side of the lodge, that we’re excited to be able to offer to people in the first few hours of the event, to get in faster, get in line, get their food and start enjoying the music,” Weyman said.
Additionally, he said Tussey Mountain is looking into improving transportation for guests parking in the driving range area.
“On some of those busy days ... some people do end up parking at the driving range; we know it’s a little bit of a walk and they just want to get inside, meet up with their friends, claim their spot on the hill and enjoy the day, so we want to get them in faster. We’re looking into getting some larger golf carts or transportation vehicles.”
Another change is the addition of more children’s activities, following the popularity of the free inflatable bounce house.
As far as the food, new restaurants set to appear in the 2018 competition include JP Edwards Grill & Bar from Burnham; Shy Bear Brewing from Lewistown and Four Ways Pub & Eatery in Bellefonte. This year also features a new private community organization, the Lewistown Moose Lodge. Weyman notes that community organizations often do well in the competition, “bringing out lots of excited, hungry people with them.” Adding to the local appeal, beer and drinks are available from Otto’s Pub and Brewery, Big Spring Spirits and more.
“We try to bring in some local elements and establishments wherever we can,” Weyman said.
As for the music, “we’re bringing in some great tribute bands that have been really well-received over the last few years,” Weyman said. While past years have featured three tribute bands across three weeks, as well as a country-themed night, this year’s lineup includes three tribute bands and then a separate country tribute night. Expect to hear all your favorites from Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Dave Matthews Band. The country tribute night features three different acts with songs by Garth Brooks, Keith Urban and Zac Brown Band.
“They’ll play separately and then together at the end, so that should be a really big night. Country is big around here and (these) are talented musicians with deep catalogs,” Weyman said.
Admission is still just $5, with free admission for those under 12. The event is cash-only, and while an ATM is on site, Weyman recommends guests come prepared. Along with your cash, don’t forget a lawn chair or blanket, as the few seating options available go quickly. Then, while the wings are served in boats, many attendees likewise bring their own trays or other means for carrying multiple orders, to sample the most varieties without the need for multiple trips to the line.
Ready for another great year, Weyman admits they’ve put together all the pieces — now it’s just up to Mother Nature to deliver on the weather. If everything falls in place, he says Tussey Mountain could easily see more evenings with record-breaking attendance.
WingFest takes place every Thursday night, July 5–Aug. 16, from 5:30-10 p.m.