By Josh Howard
What promised to be a poultry pilgrimage, proved to be a spicy and satisfying journey of heat, sweet and everything in between on the flavor spectrum.
Over a hundred hungry patrons poured into the Baton Rouge River Center last Saturday, April 26, for the 1st Annual Wing-a-thon. For the general admission price of $20, wing lovers feasted on as many chicken wings as humanly possible, with flavors ranging from “garlic parmesan” to “atomic nuclear.”
The participating restaurants included Best Boilers, Buffalo Wild Wings, The Bulldog, Capital City Grill, Firebelly Concepts, Hooters, Happy’s, The Londoner, Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar, The Pelican House, Pluckers, Stroubes, TJ Ribs, Savor, Table is Bread, Wings of Glory and Wing Stop.
Casey McKenzie, a Baton Rouge foodie and lover of all things Louisiana, was not only impressed with the turnout, but also with the dynamic flavors from all of the vendors.
“I typically only eat wings from TJ Ribs and Buffalo Wild Wings. However, I will say that there are some great-tasting wings in this room today. It will be tough making a decision on who has the best wing,” McKenzie said.
The decision McKenzie referenced is the choice that every visitor to the Wing-a-thon was strongly encouraged to make. Wing fans had the flavorful responsibility of choosing which wingery would walk home with either the “Most Unique,” “Hottest” or “Best Overall” wing award.
At the end of the four-hour event, Stroube’s won the “Most Unique” with its Zapp’s Crawtator-crusted wing, while Wings of Glory won the title of the “Hottest” wings in the competition. Pluckers Wing Bar walked away with the big award of the night, the “Best Overall” wings in the competition.
In addition to the wings, the family-friendly event had activities for children and poultry-centered competitions. One of the events included a hot wing eating competition where contestants where challenged to outlast each other continuously eat hot wings without taking a sip of milk or water. Brandon Grotsma, one of the three winners, knew he had a stomach of steel, so he did not bat an eye when he heard about this challenge. “I knew I could win,” Grotsma simply stated.
Not to be outdone, promotional host Eagle 98.1 and its three other Guaranty Broadcasting radio station affiliates held its own wing eating contests. Each station consisted of either on-air personalities or staff and members of the audience.
Another competition challenged wing consumers to bob for wings in vats of ranch dressing in similar fashion to the autumn favorite of bobbing for apples.
Jessi Mapes, marketing manager of the Baton Rouge River Center, and her team have been working on this event for some time. “This is absolutely great for the first year,” Mapes said. Mapes was not only impressed with the wings dished out in the event’s premiere, but plans on bringing the Wing-a-thon back next year for a second round. This news should make fans like McKenzie very happy.
“I can’t wait to come back next year with my family because this is already one of the best events in Baton Rouge,” McKenzie said.