In 1992 Toni Morgan raised $9,000 for the Boys’ and Girls’ Club in what a Gazette feature described as “a novel bet.” Mr. Morgan went on a diet to lose 30 pounds, asking friends to donate to the club for each pound he lost.
“His loss is their gain,” the article concluded.
But with Wingfest scheduled for this Saturday, “gain” seems much more the word of the day. Each year, local groups concoct secret sauces and bring three gallons’ worth to the contest, where attendees can sample the wares and decide on the best wing sauce. The contest is hosted by Sharky’s Cantina, which also provides the wings; owner JB Blau estimated that the restaurant goes through anywhere from 5,000 to 7,000 wings during the competition. Last year, boneless wings were added to Wingfest, although, as Mr. Blau notes, “Die-hard wing people scoff at you when you mention boneless.”
Awards are given for Best Wings (as determined by attendees), Committee’s Choice (as determined by organizers), Spiciest Wings and Best Booth; there’s also a wing-eating contest for any aspiring Joey Chestnuts out there. The Edgartown Fireman’s Association won Best Wings three years in a row, and has been temporarily retired this year to the “Coop of Fame,” making the contest anyone’s game. Nonprofits and municipal organizations are encouraged to participate.
Mr. Blau said he was inspired to start Wingfest five years ago, after the restaurant first added wings to its menu.
“Our business model is based on focusing as much as we can on the winter — the off-season, but we call it the on-season — and just trying to bring things to the Island that are entertaining,” he said.
The event is now in its fourth year, with organizers hoping to raise $12,500 for the Boys’ and Girls’ Club. Tickets are $25 and all of the proceeds go to the club. Last year, Wingfest raised well over $8,000, drawing about 400 people.
The decision to support the Boys’ and Girls’ Club with Wingfest proceeds was “a no-brainer,” Mr. Blau said. After his daughter, Piper (now 5), was born, Mr. Blau said he became much more interested in focusing Sharky’s community outreach on youth organizations.
“It kind of changes your focus,” Mr. Blau said. “Once you have a kid, basically all you think about is your kids and their friends . . . it was pretty obvious once she was born that a lot of the focus that [Sharky’s] did community-wise would be around kids.”
Wingfest takes place from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon at Sharky’s Cantina in Edgartown. Tickets are $25, and can be purchased online at wingfestmv.com.