Dining With Denise Neil

It’s already time for the Wichita’s big chicken wing eating party

VIDEO: Wingapalooza 2015

Intrust Bank Arena's new chicken wing event drew a sold-out crowd of 2,000 downtown on Saturday. (Denise Neil/The Wichita Eagle)
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Intrust Bank Arena's new chicken wing event drew a sold-out crowd of 2,000 downtown on Saturday. (Denise Neil/The Wichita Eagle)

Intrust Bank Arena has trained Wichita over the past four years to start craving chicken wings in August. Every summer since 2015, that’s when the arena has staged its big chicken wing-eating event Wingapalooza, which always draws around 2,000 wing lovers.

But this year, it’s happening a little earlier. For the event’s fifth year, organizers decided to move it to July, not only because August is so packed with other events in Wichita but also because Intrust Bank Arena’s calendar is packed in August with concerts by Alan Jackson, Jim Gaffigan and Chris Stapleton.

“It made sense for us to move it into July since we were a little quieter,” said Christine Pileckas, the arena’s director of booking and marketing.

The fifth annual Wingapalooza will happen from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday on the floor of Intrust Bank Arena, and tickets are still available, though Pileckas said she expects another sell-out crowd.

The event will feature 17 local restaurants, who will bring large quantities of their chicken wings for the crowds to sample. Among the list of vendors this year is Chick N Max, Slim Chickens, Twin Peaks and Emerson Biggin’s. First-time participants include Sorrel’s Jamaican Food, a popular new restaurant at 3090 W. 13th St., and Fyre, a chicken and soul-food restaurant at 2724 E. Central.

An admission tickets allows attendees to sample wings from each restaurant. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 the day of the event, and there’s also a $40 VIP ticket that includes early entry to the arena, one drink ticket and access to a private VIP area with a full cash bar.

Attendees, who will be asked to vote for their favorite wing, also can buy beer from a craft beer garden and listen to a live DJ spin tunes. “Veggie stations” will be set up so that people can cool and cleanse their palates with celery and carrots and blue cheese and Ranch dressing.

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Intrust Bank Arena is expecting another sold-out crowd for its fifth annual Wingapalooza event. Courtesy photo

At noon, attendees can watch a wing-eating contest that pits first responders against each other for bragging rights and a trophy. There will also be a stein-hoisting contest sponsored by Sam Adams.

One change at this year’s event, Pileckas said: The arena had decided to undo a change it made last year. In an effort to help wing lines move more quickly, they grouped restaurants together in clusters of three or four and had people stand in one line to access each group. But it didn’t help the lines, so this year, they’ll return to having people line up at each booth.

Pileckas said the event has had a strong first five years, and local chicken wing fans will likely keep it going for years to come.

“It’s been really successful on our end,” she said. “There are people who have come every single year. They love it and seem to be making it a tradition.”

Wingapalooza 2019

What: The fifth annual installment of Intrust Bank Arena’s wing-eating event

Where: Intrust Bank Arena, 500 E. Waterman

When: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: $20 in advance at www.selectaseat.com, $25 at the door, $40 VIP

Denise Neil has covered restaurants and entertainment since 1997. Her Dining with Denise Facebook page is the go-to place for diners to get information about local restaurants. She’s a regular judge at local food competitions and speaks to groups all over Wichita about dining.
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