Build Up Your Appetite for Knoxville's Big Kahuna Wing Festival

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Maybe it’s the impending start of football season, but there must be something in the air lately, because it is definitely chicken wing season in the South. In addition to the Springer Mountain Farms Southern Wing Showdown coming to Atlanta in late August, Knoxville will play host to the seventh annual Big Kahuna Wing Festival also sponsored by SMF and US Foods on Sunday, September 1 in World’s Fair Park.  

Last year’s Big Kahuna fest attracted more than 8000 visitors from all over the region to sample wings from 40 competing teams representing restaurants, cooking teams, businesses, and The University of Tennessee Culinary Institute. The event raises money for local charities, having contributed almost a quarter million dollars in the first six years of competition! Among this year’s beneficiaries are the News Sentinel Empty Stocking Fund, whose mission is to provide food and toys to disadvantaged East Tennessee families during the holidays, Second Harvest Food Bank, East Tennessee region’s largest hunger-relief charity operating programs in 18 counties, and the Big Heads Big Hearts Foundation founded to offer charitable support for multiple organizations in the greater Knoxville community.  

The Big Kahuna Wing Festival is about more than just cooking the beloved chicken snacks. There will also be multiple cooking demonstrations from local chefs including Deron Little from Season’s Cafe, The Walnut Kitchen’s David Rule, Danny Wilhoit of Bistro by the Tracks, Josh Davis from Kitchen 919 and Andrew Platt who will be making the trip up interstate 75 from his restaurant Ceniza in Chattanooga. There will also be performances from several local bands including a headline set from nationally-known bluegrass mandolinist Sam Bush at 6:00. Contestants can sign up for two different wing-eating competitions, one based strictly on the volume of wings they can consume in three minutes and another that adds the difficulty of ratcheting up the heat level of the wings to XXXHot! 

General Admission tickets offer access to the festival along with 25 free wings from the wing competition teams (no more than five from any team at one time). After your 25 complimentary wings you can purchase wings (1 for $1) from any of the competition teams. There will also be additional food vendors and beverages offered for purchase during the event. 

VIP tickets grant the ultimate “all access” to the festival, with VIP ticket holders not only having an opportunity to try all of the wings, but also exclusive access to the VIP area with premium seats near the stage, complimentary beverages (including alcohol), and food from Big Kahuna Wings. VIP’s will also be allowed to enter one hour early to visit all the wing competitors before the gates open. 

For more information and ticket options, visit the Big Kahuna Wing Festival’s official website. Come hungry!

Heather Sinyard