It’s that time again. WingFest kicks off at Tussey Mountain on June 27, welcoming restaurants from around the county and beyond, bearing their best wings and sauces, and hundreds of hungry locals ready to chow down and crown the king of wings.
Aaron Weyman, marketing director at Tussey Mountain, said the event expects to showcase a minimum of 30 restaurants, at least five restaurants competing against one another over the course of six weeks, though the final tally may reach up to 36 restaurants.
He foresees a lot of new restaurants participating in WingFest for the first time, as well as several non-traditional competitors like the culinary arts department at the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology and a team from Juniper Village at Brookline.
Last year’s winner was Wilderness Lodge, hailing from Milroy. Having won in 2016, Wilderness Lodge reclaimed the trophy from 2017 champion Kelly’s Steak and Seafood.
“I think that their wings are great, first of all,” Weyman says of the win. “They have some really unique sauces that people seem to like ... (but) it’s usually a pretty close vote, down to a couple dozen or so.”
Last year also saw new competitors and some serious upsets. According to Weyman, the team from the State College American Legion “beat some pretty big restaurants; it was a pretty big upset.”
Beyond just the wings, though, WingFest always promises top-notch entertainment, for a night filled with both food and fun. This year’s live music roster will appeal to classic rock fans, or just anyone looking to have a great time.
“(We have) a lot of bands coming to the stage that have never played here before. ... We’re excited about that. We have a Led Zeppelin tribute band based out of California that’s going to be playing. We have a Guns N’ Roses tribute band out of South Carolina, a Van Halen tribute band out of New York City. We’re really pulling entertainment from all over the country that wouldn’t normally be here,” Weyman said.
Of course, you can still expect to see the local staple bands like Velveeta, My Hero Zero and Hybrid Ice.
“They play really well together and the crowds seem to really accumulate when those bands play,” Weyman said. “It’s really become a fun thing. ... Our typical WingFest attendee might not even be a big fan of the music of the tribute band that we’re bringing in, but they usually leave saying it was a pretty good show and a great night.”
For those planning to attend WingFest any Thursday night, it runs through August and Weyman recommends arriving ahead of the gates opening at 5:30 p.m. Additionally, bring your own trays or Tupperware containers to easily transport your dinner, if you plan to try wings from multiple vendors. Bring a blanket or chair and be prepared for the weather, he added.
WingFest takes place at Tussey Mountain June 27, July 11, July 19, July 25, Aug. 1 and Aug. 8, with the finals held Aug. 15. Music acts go on at 6 and 8 p.m. Check out the Tussey Mountain website for more details on when you can catch your favorite bands and restaurants.