Central Pennsylvania is fortunate enough to be filled with various summer festivals, some spotlighting art, books and music.
But now that the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts wrapped up this past week, State College will again be flooded with people who appreciate a different kind of art — wings.
The 14th annual WingFest event, hosted by Tussey Mountain, will kick off at 5:30 p.m. tonight at the Tussey Mountain Amphitheater. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the event will run until 10 p.m.
WingFest will continue every Thursday starting tonight until the final round on Thursday, Aug. 30.
There is a $5 admission fee to the event, and parking is free. Attendees can buy tickets for $1 each to trade for wings, beer and other food and drink, Aaron Weyman, director of marketing at Tussey Mountain, said.
According the official Tussey Mountain website, this week’s match-up includes Main Street Cafe, Garfield’s, Kildare’s Irish Pub and Doan’s Bones Barbecue.
Next Thursday will pit Wegmans, The Cove and The Gingerbread Man against each other, according to the website.
Weyman said the competition each week pits three or four restaurants against each other by bringing their best wing sauces to win the hearts of wing lovers in Central Pennsylvania and become the round’s winner.
Weyman said the restaurants participating every year are always a nice mix of State College establishments as well as some from surrounding neighborhoods. The restaurants normally draw in a “good following of loyal customers” to WingFest, he said.
“There’s always good wings to be eaten, no doubt about that,” Weyman said.
Mandy Weidner, Garfield’s assistant manager, said the restaurant is excited to participate in the competition again, as the last time the restaurant was a part of WingFest was about two to three years ago.
Weidner said the wing sauces Garfield’s, located in the Nittany Mall, will enter for the first round will be Chipotle BBQ, Sweet and Spicy, Tiger and Mango Haberno. She said Tiger is a spicy sauce with hints of fruit in it, while Mango Haberno is a spicy pepper sauce with a hint of mango to cancel out some of the spicy flavor.
She said all these sauces are available on the restaurant’s menu except for Mango Haberno. Celery, ranch and bleu cheese dressing will be available with the wings. Weidner said she recommends attendees try the Chipotle BBQ and the Sweet and Spicy sauces.
“We’re really excited and hope to start participating in [WingFest] every year,” Weidner said, adding she hopes the event will attract new customers and give Garfield’s more exposure.
Doan’s Bones Barbecue, located in Petersburg, Pa., will be participating in WingFest for the third year in a row, Brandon Corvin, Doan’s Bones Barbecue manager and owner, said.
Corvin said the restaurant will have its Buffalo, Spicy Ranch and Hot sauces. He said he is hoping for the weather to be nice so that there is a good turnout.
“We like to get our product to people’s taste buds,” Corvin said.
Danielle Peters, Kildare’s marketing manager, said last year was the first year the restaurant participated in the event. She said though the restaurant did not win the round it competed in last year, Kildare’s, 538 E. College Ave., is excited to participate in the event and get the restaurant’s name out to potential customers.
BFG, Whiskey BBQ and Firehouse will be the sauces Kildare’s is entering into the competition, with ranch and bleu cheese available to have with the wings, Peters said. All three of the sauces are available for customers during Kildare’s wing nights.
Weyman said a new feature to WingFest this year is rides on the chair lift. The chair lift rides are $5 per person, Weyman said.
He said there are some beautiful sunsets, making it a very “scenic” ride with views of Mount Nittany and State College.
Live music has always been a feature at WingFest, with local acts from Ted and the Hi-Fi’s and Velveeta to JR and Natalie Band and My Hero Zero performing throughout the festival this year.
Lowjack is tonight’s headlining band, with Your Dad’s Friends as the opening act, according to Tussey Mountain’s website.
Jason Davoli, Lowjack’s lead singer, songwriter and guitarist, said the band’s members are all “passionate about wings.” Davoli said when the band plays a place that serves wings, the members make a point to try some of the wings on the menu.
Davoli said the band is looking forward to playing songs from its country-rock repertoire, including music from Tom Petty and Dave Matthews to the band’s original music.
“We are very excited to be a part of an event this big and this fun,” Davoli said, adding he has attended WingFest in the past. “We plan to go and rock out and have a good time. We hope to get invited back next year.”