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Winging it with Wingfest Maine

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BANGOR – One of the area’s tastiest fundraisers is set to take flight once more.

The United Way of Eastern Maine will be hosting Wingfest Maine at the Cross Insurance Center. Some 20 vendors will be cooking up thousands of wings for your dining pleasure – all for a great cause. The event takes place on May 30 from 5-8 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 the day of the event; kids aged six and under eat free. Tickets and more information can be found at www.wingfestmaine.com.

Jesse Moriarity is the Chief Operating Officer for the United Way of Eastern Maine; this fundraiser is her brainchild. But what was the inspiration to build an event around wings?

“It really started a few years ago when a good friend of mine was telling me about ‘Bacon Fest,’ which is a huge fundraiser his dad put together to help fund the nonprofit he was running out of state,” said Moriarity. “He kept asking me ‘What’s your bacon fest?’

“The more I thought about it the more I realized I LOVE wings,” she continued. “I don’t know if maybe I just didn’t get enough wings as a kid or what, but they are hands down one of my favorite foods, And believe it or not, there are A LOT of restaurants in our region that serve them.”

There’s a lot of fun to be had an event such as this one, with all manner of excitement surrounding the deliciousness and plenty of opportunities to reward exceptional offerings.

“As in years past there will be an amazing People’s Choice trophy,” Moriarity said. “Each attendee gets a ballot, so they can vote for their favorite wing of the night and the winning team walks with a super sweet trophy. We also have an awesome panel of celebrity judges including Don Cookson, Sarah Nichols and Ann Marie Orr, who will be giving our ribbons for all kinds of categories including Bring on the Hot Wing and Best Use of Maine Ingredients.”

But wait – there’s more!

“But what’s new this year that we are so excited about is a wing eating competition sponsored by Husson University Dining Services. Plus, lots of buffalo wing swag will be available for purchase from www.buffalowingwear.com. And rather than a band this year, we have an amazing entertainer who rumor has it may even be breathing fire!”

Nothing like a wing-eating competition, right? But it’s worth noting that this is a speed challenge, rather than a quantity one. Moriarity spoke a little about why they made the addition.

“It sounded like so much fun and we wanted folks to have a new way to get involved and be part of the action,” she said. “However, a big topic that we deal with is food insecurity, so we’re not about how many wings you can eat, but rather how fast you can eat the 15 wings in front of you, ranging from mild to HOT HOT HOT!”

In past years, Wingfest Maine has done big numbers in terms of attendance. Moriarity is hoping for more of the same this time around.

“Our first year out of the gate we completely sold out so we’re hoping for the same this year,” she said. “We have moved the event into the Cross Center arena so we can allow more attendees, but based on the number of wings these incredible restaurants are donating I think 1,500 will be our max. So if folks want to come they need to get their tickets today at www.wingfestmaine.com.”

And of course, this story wouldn’t be complete without asking the REALLY tough question – what type of wing do you like best?

“I love me a traditional wing with a bit of a kick to it,” Moriarity said. “I love a good dry rub, but I need some sauce for sure! Also – and don’t hate me for it - but I’m a blue cheese kind of girl.”

And there you have it. If you enjoy good wings – and if you have taste buds, odds are that you do – there’s no other place to be than at Wingfest Maine on May 30. Join the United Way of Eastern Maine and eat some delicious wings, all in support of a great cause.

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