Westchester County is finally going to pay homage to the chicken wing, as Empire City Casino and Westchester Magazine will join forces to hold the first ever Wingfest on Saturday, Sept. 16.
Erin Murphy, Empire’s communications director, said given football season is officially underway, Wingfest made sense, calling beer, football and wings “the perfect trifecta.”
“Empire City Casino is always looking for fun, new events to host and different experiences to offer our guests,” Murphy said. “When we started thinking for something for fall, beer and football kept coming into mind, which ultimately led to bar food and thus, wings.”
As of press time, there are 30 wing vendors, coming from as far as Fairfield County, Connecticut. There will also be three food trucks, including one offering ice cream. The event is strictly for those ages 21 and up, as beer is included in the ticket price. Live music, contests and more are also in store in what is sure to be a fun-filled four hours, kicking off at 2 p.m.
Local wing vendors include Alvin & Friends, of New Rochelle; Coal’s Pizza, of Bronxville; Mickey Spillane’s, of Eastchester; Rye Roadhouse, of Rye; The Craftsman Ale House, of Harrison; and The Wooden Spoon, of New Rochelle. The increasingly popular HooDoo Brown Barbeque of Ridgefield, Connecticut, will also be in the running.
While patrons will receive a token to vote for the best wing vendor upon entry, there will be five official judges mingling with the crowd, selecting the best of traditional buffalo, barbecue, most flavorful and most creative.
Empire’s own Dan Rooney’s sports pub will be participating in the contest as well, with Executive Sous Chef Matt Heisel offering two sauces on the pub’s popular wings. He added that the barbecue sauce he created for the pub took him almost a month and a half to develop.
“We are doing a twist on everything for Wingfest; we’re just throwing it out there,” Heisel said, mentioning a vindaloo wing: a garlic and wine-marinated wing, covered with a curry sauce that is earthy, spicy and a little sweet, characteristics of the Indian seasoning. The second sauce will be a play on Heisel’s own barbecue sauce, made just for the event.
Tickets on Sept. 16 will be $60 on site, which will include unlimited food, unlimited beer and $10 free play at the casino. For more information and to purchase tickets ahead of time, visit westchestermagazine.com/wingfest. If you miss out, you can follow the action on social media with the hashtag #WMWingfest.