Allegheny students were gathered in the lobby of the Henderson Campus Center at 1:45 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23, as they waited for the annual Wingfest event to begin.
Inside Shafer Auditorium, students were divided by class before they were given a “Lord of the Wings” T-shirt and a bowl for chicken wings from Meadville’s Smokey Martin’s Barbeque.
“This is an annual event,” Vice President of Annual Events for Gator Activities Programming Cecily Milligan, ’18, said, sporting latex elf ears and a beige Lord of the Wings cape. “I know it has been going on for more than 20 years, and in 2015, we won an award at a national conference for small school biggest tradition.”
The budget is the same each year to allow each student six chicken wings, a T-shirt and drinks, according to Milligan. There were eight different types of chicken wing options, served by two assembly lines of GAP representatives and volunteers. Parkhurst Dining Services also provided a vegetarian-friendly tempura with mixed vegetables at the event.
At 3 p.m. on the Gator Quad, two teams of four students competed in a wing-eating competition to donate prize money to the charity of their choice. The price of admission was $5 per person, totalling to be $20 per team. For a small additional cost, anyone could “sabotage” a team to put extra Frank’s Red Hot Sauce on their wings. All proceeds went to the winning team’s charity of choice. Milligan announced the competition in real-time as Wingfest-goers, GAP representatives and a chicken mascot that makes a timely appearance every year cheered on the competitors.
The winning team, “Call Her Daddy,” was comprised of four members of the sorority Alpha Chi Omega and triumphed over the opposing team “Grace,” winning by only seconds. Alpha Chi Omega’s philanthropy, Women’s Services Inc., will receive the prize money the winning team earned from the contest. The winning team members were also each given one of the Lord of the Wings capes as a prize.
Some first-year students were impressed by the magnitude of the event.
“A free shirt and free wings, what could be better,” said Taylor Beckley, ’21.
Other students were less impressed like Heather Hainsey, ‘21, who left early due to the long lines that developed just before 2 p.m. Most students enjoyed the unusually warm weather and ate on the hillside while others played catch on the quad.
Aside from being a traditional social gathering for students to unwind, Wingfest has the potential to be an event that brings the community together, according to the other Vice President of Annual Events for GAP Jaran Smith, ’20.
“Wingfest was an opportunity for local businesses to showcase their products to the campus community … so having them showcase all their products gives students a sense of what’s in the community and what they can look forward to in the future,” Smith said.
Smith went on to say the wings from Smokey Martin’s Barbeque were the only products from local Meadville businesses at this year’s Wingfest, but there may be more involvement in the future.
Smith was pleased with how the event turned out, aside from the low turnout for the wing-eating competition.
“We only pulled in two teams, which is completely unfortunate because that’s the main event within the event. Plus, all the money goes to a good cause, so the more teams that do it, the more money is raised,” Smith said.
Having only raised just over $40 for a cause, Smith attributed this to the strategy on advertising specifically for the wing-eating competition.
Feeling that there was a good turnout with an even representation among classes, Smith ultimately declared Wingfest a success.
“I thought the day was a success. It was our first major event of the year and it was received really well from the campus community, and that’s always good,” Smith said.