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Bob for wings in a vat of blue cheese at this annual event, now in its 14th year.

September 04, 2015

Buffalo is gearing up to celebrate its namesake culinary mascot this Labor Day weekend, with the 14th annual National Buffalo Wing Festival on Saturday and Sunday.

The festival, inspired by the 2002 comedy Osmosis Jones, in which actor Bill Murray played a compulsive eater with the goal of heading to the National Buffalo Wing Festival, is expected to welcome some 70,000 visitors. Ironically enough, such a festival didn't exist in the Queen City when the movie came out. But self -proclaimed "Wing King" Drew Cerza was inspired by the idea, and brought it to life that year.

Fast-forward a decade and a half, and the event has grown to feature more than 30 eateries from across the country, plus one from the U.K., and offers more than 120 varieties of Buffalo wings. More than 470,000 visitors have attended since 2002, and more than 2.4 million wings have been consumed in that time, totaling nearly 137 tons. 

Joey Chestnut, the internationally renowned professional eater, returns to secure his title at the United States Chicken Wing Eating Championship: He set a record last year by eating 183 wings in just 12 minutes. Revelers who wish to get hands-on themselves can participate in a bobbing for wings contest, in which they hunt for wings, bobbing-for-apples-style, in a vat of blue cheese.

But the gluttony here doesn't only benefit wing fans: Since its inception, the festival has raised nearly $300,000 for local charities, including the Food Bank of Western New York and Meals on Wheels.

Sean Flynn is the Digital Producer at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @BuffaloFlynn. 

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