One day of wings just didn't seem like enough.
For the first time this year, Wingfest will expand into the evening before the main event.
The Pre-Wingfest Party will run from 5 to 8 p.m. March 23 at Shelter Cove Community Park on Hilton Head Island. Think of it as a mini-Wingfest. Skull Creek Boathouse will provide the wings, Street Meet will serve up hamburgers and hot dogs, live music will play and youngsters can enjoy the kids zone.
"It's going to be a more intimate party than the big festival the next day," said Joe Cain, who organizes the festival for the Island Recreation Association.
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Several festivals locally have expanded into multi-day affairs, such as the Hilton Head Island Wine Festival, which started as an afternoon event and since has expanded into the weeklong Wine & Food Festival. On a smaller scale, the rec center-run Hilton Head Oyster Festival tried a pre-party event for the first time last year.
"All the tables were full that night," Cain said. "We thought if it could work for the oyster festival, it could work for Wingfest."
THE MAIN EVENT
The official Wingfest runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 24 at Shelter Cove Community Park. More than 20 restaurants are scheduled to serve up a variety of wings.
Live music will be on stage all day, including Big B and the Stingers, Deas Guyz, and Jacob & The Good People. New this year: Try out karaoke in between acts.
The kids zone will remain up for youngsters to play.
Admission is $5 for ages 13 and older. Tickets to buy wings are $1 each. All proceeds go to the Hilton Head Island Recreation Association's Scholarship Fund.
Aunt Chilada's, Chart House, Casey's, Central Church, Giuseppi's, HH Brewing Co., Kickin' Chicken, Montana's, Murphy's Irish Pub, One Hot Mama's, Patty's Pig 'N' Pit, Parrot Cove, Pizza dal Mare/Mickey's Pub, Pizza Hut, Reilley's, Street Meet, The Big Chill, The Frosty Frog, The Salty Dog Cafe, The Smokehouse, The Westin Resort, Wild Wing Cafe
Get ready for some typical and not-so-typical wing flavors. Some restaurants use Wingfest to try out new flavors. Wild Wing Cafe debuted The General a few years ago. The Asian flavors of the wings were a hit, and it's now a staple on the chain's menu.
Others just cook up something special for Wingfest. Bubba's Dixie Beer Wing from Kenny B's, for example, came with grits.
Keep an eye out for One Hot Mama's. The Hilton Head barbecue place won the People's Choice two years in a row. This year, Orchid Paulmeier plans to return with what she calls an "old family recipe" to defend the title.
BY THE NUMBERS
Pounds of wings: 6,000
Total people: 5,000
Amount raised for Island Rec Association Scholarship Fund: $20,000
Booths with unbearably hot wings: Zero (Cain says extra hot wings are discouraged at the request of the judges' palates.)
Number of foam wing hats: One. On Joe Cain's head.