Short on wings, long on entertainment
By David Josselyn
The second annual Central City Wing Fest, Saturday, July 22, was met with eager anticipation by those who attended the inaugural or heard about it second hand. The Wing Fest event allows business and residents to show off their chicken wing finesse in a contest for best wing, and then holds a chicken wing eating contest. Trophies are handed out for best wings, but over-eaters, er, over-achievers in eating are awarded cold hard cash for their gnashing ability. Main Street is closed for pedestrians only and is lined with vendors of all sorts capped with a street-width stage and live bands playing all day. Once an hour, the music and action pauses to witness an old-fashioned shoot-out by the Wild Bunch Gang. During the 2:00 hour, the Wild Bunch were startled by an alien craft hovering in the sky (a drone flown by a Central City Fire Department volunteer) and took time off from shooting each other to take aim at the object. Their aim was not true and the vehicle flew off down the street never to be seen again.
The event started at 11:00 am, but long before the event finished, vendors sold out of their wings leaving several disappointed late-arriving visitors. Fortunately, there was plenty of other delicious food on the street. Organizer Zeke Keeler stated his goal next year is to greatly increase the number of wing vendors.
Three bands graced the ears of townsfolk. The day started with a band featuring Gilpin County resident Richi Foelsch on bass and vocals: Sweet T and the Big Drink from Denver, a rhythm and blues and soul band covering artists such as Bonnie Raitt, Wilson Pickett, and Aretha Franklin. They were followed by The Big Green Carpet from Bailey, an indie rock and blues band covering classic rock and giving their own rocking spin to some pop riffs such as Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson. The third and final band was Turkey Foot from Denver, a 5-piece bluegrass band with a hard-driving traditional sound of honky-tonk mixed in.
Main Street Central City not only sponsored the event, but also setup a play area for children and families. Checkers, play-dough, coloring books, building blocks, and cars kept many a child, and adult, entertained.
Best Wing Winners
There were seven chicken wing recipes being judged this year that ran the gamut from intensely hot to succulently sweet. The judges, randomly chosen from attendees, ironically seemed to have identical palettes as the winning wings were definitely on the hot side. The second place winner was Century Casino with their habanero wings. First place went to JKQ BBQ for their habanero wings. JKQ had another entry, a chipotle lime wing that did not place, but I personally thought was more deserving of first place.
Wing Eater Winners
The hot wing eating contest had 15 entrants who paid $20 each for the opportunity to eat plate after plate of wings drenched in Frank’s Red Hot for five minutes. Last year’s winner, Hal Arundale, was firing up the crowd beforehand announcing his triumphant arrival with shouts of “Let’s do this!” and other general testosterone filled exclamations. Regardless of his aspirations, he failed to make the top three. The third place finisher for a $50 award went to Nick Noffsinger. Second place for a $100 award went to Cameron Pockrus. First place for a $250 award went to Georgetown resident Scott Elkins.
There are still plenty of events to come in Central City this year. The next event is A Night of Good Fortune hosted by Famous Bonanza and Easy Street Casinos on Saturday, July 29. Last year, they held a Lucha Libre in the middle of Main Street complete with food and music. After A Night of Good Fortune comes the massively anticipated Great Central City Beer Fest on August 26.