The reason for the annual Wapak Wing Fest is simple — helping area veterans.
The main attraction at the annual Wapak Wing Fest is plain — chicken wings prepared by seven vendors located throughout Ohio.
“The beauty of the event is we are a food festival destination for a lot of out-of-towners in light of the feedback we have received on our Facebook page,” Wapak Wing Fest co-organizer Kris Ewald said regarding the 10th annual Wapak Wing Fest scheduled for Saturday. “This year is special to me, as is every year special to me, because of the success we have had to donate the amount of money we have raised.
“We are at the $75,000 mark over nine years for a one-day event centered around eating chicken wings, watching football and having a volleyball tournament,” he said. “We have averaged raising $8,000 per year to donate to the VA (Veterans Administration) health care system so I am extremely proud of that.”
All the proceeds from the Wapak Wing Fest, tabbed as “Northwest Ohio’s Original Wing Competition and held annually at the American Legion Post 330, 1108 E. Benton St., go to supplement area veterans health care needs.
Ewald said they re-directed the money a few years ago, shifting the money to the Lima clinic, which serves 6,000 veterans from a 13-county area, from the Dayton Veterans Administration Hospital.
“The original idea always was to have the money to go to veteran services in some capacity,” Ewald said, noting the American Legion has been involved since its start. “I can see the impact that we have had, even last year from the donations we made including a couple of items that may seem simple but they make a big impact.”
Last year Wing Fest officials donated to the VA clinic a commercial fax machine, which enabled records to be transferred more quickly and with a greater quality.
Another simple donation is clothing.
Ewald said he was moved when he presented a veteran with a Wing Fest t-shirt last year and the veteran teared up and told him that would likely be the only new piece of clothing he would receive the entire year.
“That is what this event is all about to me,” Ewald said. “I never served in the armed forces, but I have the utmost respect for the people who did serve and who are serving and I believe we have a responsibility to take care of them.
“With the proceeds from Wing Fest, we are trying to fill in the gaps because there are a lot of gaps when it comes to the VA system,” he said.
Making all the donations possible is Saturday’s day-long event.
On Saturday afternoon, seven chicken wing vendors will be vying to win one of three prizes — first, second and People’s Choice award. First and second place will be judged by a five-person panel, while attendees to the free event will vote on the People’s Choice Award.
Judges will consider flavor, sauce, tenderness and uniqueness when awarding the $600 prize for first place and $400 for second place. Each winner will receive a plaque commemorating their Wapak Wing Fest participation.
Vendors are scheduled to be open for food service at noon, with wings available for purchase at that time. Winners will be announced at approximately 8 p.m.
Events Saturday start with registration for the PT Works co-ed sand volleyball tournament with the first games set to begin at 9 a.m. Prizes are to be awarded to the two top six-person teams.
Registration for a two-man baggo tournament starts at 3 p.m. with the tournament to start at 4 p.m. Registration the day of the tournament is $25.
The American Legion Riders are sponsoring a Poker Run with registration starting at 11 a.m. and the first bike out at noon. For more information on the ride, contact Karen “Red” Steinke at 419-230-5514.
The band “staples” is set to perform at 8 p.m. and college football games can be viewed on big screen TVs throughout the day.