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NEW BREMEN — Chicken wing fans from around the region packed the New Bremen American Legion to taste, judge and visit with friends during the sixth annual New Bremen Sons of the American Legion’s MAC Wingfest.
“This year we have 10 vendors,” Wingfest Chair Rodney Suchland said. “Usually we have 10 or 12, so it’s about average.”
The doors opened at 4 p.m. Saturday, and a steady stream of people crowded the Legion to participate in the annual event that pits wing vendors from around the area for the top titles.
“The wings are out from 4 until 6 or 6:30 when we’ll announce the winners,” Suchland said. “Nashville Crush will play from 8 to midnight.”
There are four trophies given away during Wingfest — hot wing champion, hot wing runner-up, specialty wing and people’s choice.
“Everybody who walks in gets a ticket and they get to sample all the wings,” Suchland said. “That way the people get to be the judge.”
Although the wings are also judged by a panel of 10 judges, Suchland noted the most coveted award is the people’s choice award.
“The vendors like to get the people’s choice award,” he said.
This year’s vendors came from around the region.
“They’re all over the MAC area — we’ve got New Bremen, Minster, Maria Stein, Coldwater, Versailles,” Suchland said.
MAC Wingfest is a fundraiser for the Sons, with the proceeds going toward a variety of charities.
“We’ve given to the park, to Relay for Life, to a handicapped Boy Scout troop in Mercer County, to the family of a girl who has cancer for her medical bills,” Suchland said.
“As much as we can, we try to keep it local. We try to keep it in the MAC area to help out with local stuff.”
Wings cost 50 cents each — something Suchland noted could be a lesser cost than what the vendor’s normally sell their wings at, but this event also is unique in that it gives them publicity and a set of possible new patrons.
“Everybody here are probably not going to go to 10 different bars to try their wings — that’s what we tell the vendors when we talk to them about coming and being a part of this event,” Suchland said.
“Here they have a chance to sample all of the wings in one place. So maybe, when New Bremen goes to play football or basketball in Maria Stein, they will know they can stop to have some of their wings.”
He also thanked the vendors who participated in MAC Wingfest 2012.
“We get great support from all the vendors, we couldn’t do it without them,” Suchland said.
Bill Woehrmyer, who lives in Punta Gorda, Fla., said he comes back to New Bremen for the Wingfest.
“I wouldn’t miss it,” Woehrmyer said.
He noted his favorite wing at Saturday’s event was Winner’s Meats’ wings.
“I like the dry rub,” he said.
During Saturday’s event, attendees were sitting and standing inside the Legion, with almost every seat filled.
“The building seats 400,” Suchland noted. “We’re definitely pushing capacity.”
The annual event usually brings a packed house, Suchland said.
“This is pretty average,” he said.
“With the weather, we were a little worried people wouldn’t come because it’s warm outside. A lot of people have been here before and they want to come back, especially for the camaraderie. There’s wings, music, drinks — what’s not to love.”
During this year’s event, Dutch Mill, of Minster, took home the title of hot wing champion; Town Tavern in Chickasaw won hot wing runner-up; Winner’s Meats of Osgood won for specialty wing; Winner’s Meats also won the title of people’s choice.