When wing aficionados converged on Huntsville, Ala., for the 14th Annual “Battle of the Buffalo Wing Festival,” the grill was loaded with wings, courtesy of Wayne-Sanderson Farms. The nation’s third-largest poultry producer operates three processing facilities in North Alabama and partners with hundreds of local family farms to produce chicken bound for the nation’s restaurant, retail and foodservice markets. Wayne-Sanderson Farms donated 10,000 pounds of fresh, Alabama-grown chicken wings to support the festival, one of the city’s largest community fundraising events at Huntsville’s Big Spring Park on April 15, preceded by the annual 5K Salmon Run.

Solely supported by sponsors and donations, the annual event has become a springtime staple in Huntsville The festival included the “Tastiest Wings in the Tennessee Valley” contest, bringing thousands of locals and visitors to the heart of downtown Huntsville to enjoy wings and food, live music, games and the 5K Salmon Run, all to champion cancer research and provide support to cancer victims. This year’s estimated 4,000 attendees was an unofficial event record, said event organizers.

Judges for the wing contest included local personalities, chefs and a Wayne-Sanderson Farms “wing expert.” Submissions from chefs, restaurants and amateur “wingmasters” from across the region competed for the coveted title of “Tastiest Wings,” with Johnny Gryll’s submission claiming top honors in the restaurant category and Big Bart’s BBQ submission being named a crowd favorite. The annual “Battle of the Buffalo Wing Festival” cancer fundraiser was started by the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s Theta Pi Chapter of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity in honor of their late fraternity brother, Paul Salmon, who succumbed to leukemia in 2007. 

“Of course, we love wings — they’re one of our top products, and they’re produced right here in north Alabama,” said Alex Brown, operations manager for Wayne-Sanderson Farms’ Decatur prepared foods complex, who spends his days overseeing production of chicken products — including wings. As a judge, Brown brought his professional expertise and love of chicken wings to the table. 

“We produce wings every day,” continued Brown. “We know wings, we love wings and we also love helping our neighbors to support such a worthy cause that makes a real difference in people’s lives.”

Over the years, the Huntsville event has raised more than $363,000 for the Russel Hill Cancer Foundation and the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, both aimed at educating and conducting research to improve human health and well-being. This year’s festival brought together approximately 4,000 community supporters and pulled in more than $88,000, all earmarked to support cancer research, treatment and to provide financial support to terminally ill patients in the form of transportation, prescription assistance and other critical needs.

“This year was our largest ever, and we had a great turnout, delicious wings and raised a generous donation for our cause,” said Ethan Fuller, executive director for this year’s event and an Alpha Tau Omega fraternity brother and University of Alabama in Huntsville alum. “This event is so important to our community and for local cancer patients, survivors and their families — we appreciate Wayne-Sanderson Farms’ support so much.”

Source: Wayne-Sanderson Farms