Get ready for the heat at Wing Fest
Proving its staying power and popularity, the Biggest Little City Wing Fest returns for its fourth year, bringing irresistible aromas, spicy flavors and ongoing music that lasts throughout the weekend. This power-packed event kicks off in front of the Silver Legacy Resort Casino on July 2 and runs through July 4, and is considered one of the most affordable festivals to hit the streets of downtown Reno.
“Nothing is more American than chicken wings!” said Staci Johnson, special events manager at the Silver Legacy. “Wing Fest has become one of Reno’s favorite traditions for celebrating the Fourth of July weekend. After all, our fabulous wing cookers do all the cooking and beer pouring for you — what more could you want?”
Thousands of pounds
And chicken wings it is. More than 22,000 pounds of range-fed organic chicken wings — think 11 tons — will be slathered in sauce, and smoked, fried or grilled to satisfy the hunger of visitors, onlookers and out-of-towners alike. Wing prices vary per booth, but each cooker will have a sampler plate with three wings for $4. There will be 25 wing cookers in top wing shape — including from the Silver Legacy — serving up incredible flavors and tastes.
The names of the competitors provide a hint about what is in store. From Kickin Asian, to Git R Smoke, Koko’s Teriyaki, Red Neck Wings, Wings of Fire and more, there will be a variety of wings to sample. Slater’s Ding-a-Wing hails from Reno while others come from Montana, Oklahoma and as far as South Dakota.
“There really will be flavors and talents coming from all different parts of the U.S., making this competition even more exciting for visitors and wing fest vendors alike,” Johnson said. “It’s pretty neat to know that we started with just local wing cookers and restaurants, and now we’re getting applicants from all over the country!”
Unique flavors, music and more
There’s no doubt that festival goers will find unique wing flavors at the Wing Fest, ranging from maple bacon bourbon to dragon Sriracha, habañero and lemon parmesan and more, but other foods will be available too, including traditional barbecue, roasted corn, garlic fries, funnel cakes and ice cream.
Of course, there will be music, too, including country newcomer Jon Pardi, who performs a free concert on Sunday night, starting at 6:30 p.m. A natural storyteller, Pardi writes about what he knows, including life, love and truth, according to his website. As well, he’s opened for artists including Dwight Yoakam, Dierks Bentley and Alan Jackson and has hits like “Head Over Boots” and “Up All Night.”
“Jon Pardi is a fantastic musician and he will be a great addition to this year’s festival,” Johnson said. “This will be the first year that we have a really big act coming out and playing a free concert at Wing Fest for our guests, so that alone makes this the best year yet.”
Other artists to perform include Stephan Hogan and Branded on July 2, Buck Ford and Cripple Creek on July 3, and Summer Schappell and The Corduroys on July 4. Performances will take place on the outdoor stage in front of the Silver Legacy. The Wing Fest occurs along Virginia Street from Fifth Street down to Commercial Row. There also will be street faire vendors, showcasing everything from crafts to accessories, and a VIP Hen House, which provides a top-notch opportunity to chow down on all-you-can-eat wings from every cooker.
Having a blast at the Wing Festival
Wing vendors will be judged in five categories, including Best Hot Wing, Best Sweet Wing, People’s Choice Wing, Judge’s Choice Wing and Celebrity’s Choice Wing — with a $500 cash prize available to first-place winners in each category. Voting ballots will be readily accessible for visitors to note their favorite in the competition.
More than 80,000 attendees are expected to be at the Wing Fest, with many from out of town. Of course, the event falls over the Fourth of July weekend, meaning there may be extra opportunities for fun and to celebrate.
“This is an event you just don’t want to miss,” Johnson said. “It’s going to knock your socks off in terms of fun, and will give you a new appreciation for wings as well as the spectacular events that downtown Reno and the Silver Legacy has to offer. It will be interesting to see what else 2016 cooks up!”
The Wing Fest is scheduled from noon to 8 p.m. July 2, noon to 8 p.m., July 3 and noon to 6 p.m. July 4. Aces Ballpark plans to light up the sky with fireworks after that Monday’s night’s game against the Tacoma Rainers, meaning downtown Reno really will have everything that is needed to have an all-American weekend.