Nearly 4,000 chicken wings, served up in a dozen different sauces, are on the menu Saturday, Nov. 12 at Sharky’s Cantina in Edgartown, the stuff of the third annual Wingfest for the benefit of the Boys and Girls Club in Edgartown.
J.B. Blau, of Sharky’s and Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Co., created the event to challenge Island amateur chefs at municipal and nonprofit organizations to cook up their favorite wing sauces. Sharky’s provides the wings, the live music, and four hours of wing-noshing, between 12 noon and 4 pm, all for $25.
Last year, more than 3,500 wings were consumed by 300 attendees along with their favorite beverage. “That’s about a dozen wings apiece,” Mr. Blau said earlier this week, noting the menu will include both boneless and bone-in wings for the first time this year. Wings are the menu until 4 but Sharky’s will return to its regular menu for Saturday’s night dinner crowd, he said.
All the money raised goes to the Boys and Girls Club of Edgartown, at which director Pete Lambos provides a host of after-school and weekend learning, sports, and skills programs, along with an affordable summer camp program.
“Last year we raised $7,500. The goal is $10,000 this year,” Mr. Blau said, and Mr. Lambos has no bone to pick with that. He said the club’s after-school program, for example, is critical for families with two working parents. “We want to make it affordable, at $20 a year, but it costs about $1,500 a year per student so this donation goes a long way to help defray expenses,” Mr. Lambos said.
It’s a simple deal, Mr. Blau says. Just register your group, show up with the sauce, maybe rig up an edgy booth, and beg your friends to come and vote for your sauce. Winners receive a trophy and a place on Sharky’s menu for a couple of months.
According to the Wingfest’s anti-dynasty rule, if you win three years in a row, you get elected to Sharky’s Hall of Fame — and a year off from trophy competition. “You can still enter, you just can’t win for a year,” Mr. Blau said.
“Wingfest is a great party to begin the fall and winter season on the Island. The organizations and the wing-eaters love the event,” he said. Recipes are a closely-held secret but special ingredients range from Captain Morgan’s rum to chocolate, he said.
Sponsors Coors Light, radio station WMVY 92.7-FM, Vineyard Vines, Sharky’s, and other friends of the Boys and Girls Clubs will give away some cool stuff during the afternoon, including a New England Patriots helmet signed by nose tackle Vince Wilfork.
There are awards for the best wings, best hot wings, even for the best booth. “Some groups go nuts — flashing lights, sounds, the whole thing,” Mr. Blau said.
The value of the bragging rights and attendant trash-talking among competitors has grown along with the event. Edgartown Fire department Lt. Jake Sylvia acknowledged his chefs have a bullseye on their back. “Tell ’em we’ll be coming at ’em hard again this year. Matt Millman’s our sauce guy and he’s working up a hot sauce for the three-peat,” Lt .Sylvia said.
In addition to the always-scintillating sauce from the Oak Bluffs EMTs, smart money also is on the Up-Island police departments under Chilmark chief Brian Cioffi and Aquinnah’s Ryan Ruley. Dan Cassidy has the bunsen burners under the O.B. police association entry and the Vegas oddsmakers caution not to rule out new entry, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Martha’s Vineyard.
“Sharky’s Wingfest is a true democracy. If you want to win, you have to get out the vote,” Mr. Lambos said, noting that ticket sales are limited to 300. Sellouts in the first two years has Mr. Lambos thinking about moving Sharky’s Wingfest to a larger space next year, possibly to the Dreamland building in Oak Bluffs.
“Most of all, Sharky’s Wingfest is a great way to have a great time while helping the community,” Mr. Lambos continued.
Wingfest 2011, Saturday, Nov. 12, 12 noon–4 pm, Sharky’s Cantina, Edgartown. $25. Tickets available at Sharky’s Edgartown & Oak Bluffs, M.V. Chowder Company, Boys and Girls Club Second Hand Store, mvol.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and on Facebook.