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Wingfest taking flight at the Cross Center

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United Way fundraiser offering wings and much more June 1

BANGOR – There are going to be wings galore at the Cross Insurance Center on June 1.

The United Way of Eastern Maine is hosting their first-ever Wingfest fundraiser, bringing wings from a wide variety of sources – and a whole lot more – to Bangor. The event, which is 21-plus, takes place from 5 – 9 p.m.; tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

For tickets or more information, check out the website at www.wingfestmaine.com, call (207)941-2800 or find Wingfest Maine on Facebook. You can also visit the Cross Insurance Center box office from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Jesse Morarity, VP of Resource Development & Communications for United Way of Eastern Maine, is one of the driving forces behind this event that hopefully becomes an annual happening.

“Any restaurant or organization in the Bangor region who makes/likes/thinks about wings is invited to participate,” she said. “When we first started our planning, we went through menus and quickly found over 60 restaurants within a 15-mile radius of Bangor who serve wings. We then started making calls to see who wanted to participate.

“There is no cost to participate,” she added. “The only caveat is that you’ll want to be able to make and serve wings for up to 1,200 people. For some local restaurants, particularly those that don’t cater, this has been too big of a barrier.

Moriarity added that wingmakers are still being accepted; they simply need to contact the United Way and get signed up. The only requirement is that the wings must be prepared in a certified kitchen.

Of course, while more will be welcome, there’s already quite a collection of participants, with over 20 different groups taking part – and not all of them restaurants.

“We’re thrilled to also have three educational institutions - Husson University, United Technologies Center (UTC) and Penobscot Job Corps - joining us,” said Moriatity. “We are also being joined by the Whoopie Pie Café who will be serving free whoopie pies!”

So how does one decide to help a Wingfest take flight?

“It all started a few years ago,” Moriarity said. “I was talking to my friend [UMaine entrepreneurship professor and co-owner of co-working space CoVort] Jason Harkins and he was telling me how his dad runs a non-profit in Kansas City. The vast majority of their fundraising is done at their annual event - Bacon-fest. He just kept asking me ‘What is your Bacon-fest?’”

You can probably guess what Moriarity’s response was.

“Well… turns out I LOVE wings,” she said. “Like LOVE wings. And so little by little, the idea was born.”

After asking around a bit and discovering that, wouldn’t you know it, there are a whole lot of other people out there who also capital-L LOVE wings, Moriarity and company started checking in with some area restaurants and seeing if they might be willing to take part. It marks a big commitment, with restaurants providing wings and staff time and all of that. Enough of them said yes and Wingfest Maine was off the ground.

As for what people can expect from the event?

“Wingfest Maine is going to be a wing lovers dream!” said Moriarity. “Not only will folks be able to sample wings from 21 different restaurants and organizationsc– with all the celery, carrots, ranch and blue cheese that they can eat, by the way - but they will also get to hear great live music from Chris Ross and the North (courtesy of Entertainment Sponsor Hollywood Casino).

“They will receive a free beer sample (plus there will be water stations and a cash bar),” she added. “They will get to finish their evening off with whoopie pies courtesy of the Whoopie Pie Cafe and BEST OF ALL it’s all for a great cause. All proceeds benefit the United Way of Eastern Maine. Together we will improve the lives for people all over eastern Maine.”

And if that’s not enough, you’ll even get to vote for your favorite. There will be ballot boxes at every wingmaker’s booth; you’ll be able to vote for the one you like best over the course of the night. At stake will be bragging rights – obviously – as well as a trophy and a profile in Bangor Metro magazine.

As you might imagine, this event is proving quite popular. Only 1,200 total tickets are being sold; according to Moriarity, they’ve reached the halfway mark and anticipate that the event will sell out.

So if you’re a wing-lover like Moriarity, you’re going to want to check out Wingfest Maine. And as for what kind of wings she prefers?

“I like pretty much any wing as long as it has a bit of a kick!” Moriarity said. “For sure bone-in and either charbroiled or smoked with lots of dipping sauce! But honestly - I never met a wing I didn’t like.”

Truly, a sentiment we all can get behind.

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