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Winging it after 4 years

August 12, 2018 GMT

Wing Fest returned to Headwaters Park after four years Saturday, bringing an estimated 1,500 to sample some of Fort Wayne’s best wings and food trucks.

While the event started 15 years ago in the parking lot of Piere’s, it was director Jake Slater’s first year taking on the event. He looked forward to bringing Wing Fest back to downtown.

“People really enjoy being in downtown Fort Wayne, its something that helps revitalize the whole city,” Slater said. “I think it’s really going to add to the event, going from a smaller parking lot to a huge outdoor space.”

In 2014, about 800 people attended. With the event moving from a Sunday afternoon to a Saturday, Slater hoped to double those numbers.

Running from 11 a.m. to midnight, the festival featured 10 local and nationwide vendors. Lucille’s Barbecue, Taqueria El Ranchito, Ivy’s Jerk Joint, Hawkin’s Famous Fish and More, Nate’s Jerky, Kona Ice, Ziffles Zip N Go and Wicked Good Cupcakes were all set up by noon.

Guests were able to vote for their top three vendors, but Slater couldn’t predict the outcome of the contest.

“You know, I can’t be biased,” Slater said. “Everybody who comes in gets one ticket, and they can vote on whoever they want to. Everybody has excellent wings.”

Chelsea Jeffers of Huntington sat at a table, trying to figure out how to eat a “Wasted” wrap from Ziffles Zip N Go.

Jeffers picked the cheddar jalapeño wrap filled with french fries, chicken strips, mozzarella cheese sticks and drizzled with “zip sauce” as her first meal at Wing Fest.

While she hadn’t tried any wings, she said she would probably vote Ziffles as her favorite.

Laina Patton, 19, was waiting at the back of the line with her mother at Lucille’s Barbecue truck.

While Patton and her mother are from Fort Wayne, neither had been to Wing Fest and it was their first time trying Lucille’s.

“The wings, they’re my favorite thing,” Patton said when asked what she was going to try first. “We’re going to vote for either this one or the one over there in the tent.”

In addition to the best wings contest, there were games and music for entertainment.

“I hope everybody comes out, enjoys wings and entertainment, and enjoys the last week of the summer,” Slater said.