Memphis, TN

World Championship Hot Wing Festival Returns to Tiger Lane on August 28

Paul Ryburn

In-person competition is back for 2021 following 2020 virtual competition

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The Memphis Traditional Buffalo Wing by the New Wing Order cooking teamPhoto by author

The World Championship Hot Wing Festival returns to an in-person competition at Tiger Lane Saturday, August 28, 2021, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The festival, in its 18 years, has raised nearly $300,000 for its charity, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Memphis. With the exception of 2020, over 80 teams typically would compete to see who deserves the title of best wings. Expecting interest in the event to grow, this year organizers have room for 100 teams.

Formerly called the Southern Hot Wing Festival, the organizers upgraded the name several years ago and made it a bona fide world championship. They want this festival to celebrate the chicken just as much as Memphis in May's annual barbecue festival celebrates the pig.

You can sample the competition wings

You may have heard that the May barbecue fest isn't a lot of fun if you aren't on a team or know people on a team. You can buy barbecue from vendors, but without knowing someone, you don't get to try the competition meat itself. That is not the case at the World Championship Hot Wing Contest and Festival.

Teams put their wings out for the public to sample. All you have to do is get in line and grab a sample (usually contains 2-3 wings). The teams do ask that you put a dollar or two in their collection box for Ronald McDonald House Charities. Teams do not keep any of the money they collect. Because every team has a different flavor for its competition recipe, you will get to try wings with a wide variety of spices and rubs.

What else can you do at the festival?
There will be a wing eating contest you can observe, or if you're feeling really brave, you can enter. The winner will receive a $100 grand prize.
There will also be a cornhole tournament with up to 32 teams. The winning team gets a $100 prize, with $50 going to the second-place team and $25 going to third place.
Expect live music on two stages, the Orion Stage and the iHeart Media Stage. There will be more than a dozen artists and bands performing, including big names like Hammer Down Hard, Amy LaVere and Will Sexton, and Al Kapone.
Is the event kid-friendly?
Yes, absolutely! Children 12 and under get in free, and there's a Kids' Corner with free activities and goodies including face painting, a photo booth, clowns, a coloring competition, balloons, and more. Parents must accompany their children to Kids' Corner.
Tickets
General admission tickets are $17 plus a small service fee. Buy them here
Or, you can enjoy the festival in style with a VIP ticket. This gets you admission to a VIP-only tent with a fully stocked open bar. It will also have a spread of food by 901 Catering including smoked ham, roast beef, appetizers, side dishes, salads, rolls, tea, and lemonade. In addition, each VIP ticket holder will be given 10 vouchers that can be exchanged for competition wing samples at team booths.
About the charity
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Memphis provides free housing for those being treated at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital as well as their families. The kids are encouraged to be kids and lead lives that are as normal as possible, with their families nearby, as they undergo treatment.
Come on out and eat some wings, listen to some live music, and donate to ensure these families never receive a bill for housing while their children are being treated.

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