Storm clouds parted just in time July 17 for families to enjoy the fourth annual WingFest organized by United Way Emerging Leaders United.
Thanks to venue sponsor Lincoln Electric System, the event returned to Haymarket Park for the second year. But this year, instead of taking place in the parking lot with COVID-19 restrictions, guests were invited into the stadium to enjoy shade from the sun, breeze on the concourse and country tunes by Tyler Anthony and the Trainwrecks, all while chowing down on Lincoln’s best chicken wings and washing them down with beer and ice cream.
After sampling the wings, a panel of seven celebrity judges – Matt Mick, D-Wayne, Lisa Workman, Brett Baker, Genelle Moore, Cristiano Simonetta and Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird – named the Rasta Jerk Chicken Wing from Stur 22 Caribbean & African Lounge as the Judges’ Choice in the traditional category. Buffalo Wild Wings’ Spicy Garlic Wing sprinkled with Chipotle BBQ seasoning was named the Judges’ Choice in the boneless category.
The nearly 600 WingFest guests agreed with the judges by awarding Stur 22 the People’s Choice in the traditional category. However, they disagreed with the judges and voted to give the People’s Choice in the boneless category to Miller Time Pub & Grill for its Bloody Mary Wing.
It was a tough competition, with Longwell’s Honey Garlic Wing narrowly missing out on taking home an award.
“Once you realize this event is about more than good food, you can’t help but take part in it,” said celebrity judge Lisa Workman, who also represented title sponsor Security First Bank. “It’s about helping kids to get a good start in life.”
United Way of Lincoln and Lancaster County works to bring the whole community together to create long-term, lasting change. While most charities focus on a single group or issue, United Way tackles issues facing Lincoln and Lancaster County as a whole. Focus is placed on health, education and financial stability – the building blocks for a good quality of life and a strong community.
This year’s WingFest event was organized to help raise funds to develop creative learning spaces for Lincoln youth.
“Last year’s funds are being used by Pershing Elementary to create a Regulation Room to help students in kindergarten through fifth grade practice social-emotional and coping skills and strategies in conjunction with the school’s Social Emotional Curriculum,” said Kaela Paseka of Duncan Aviation, a member of United Way Emerging Leaders United and chair of this year’s WingFest. “Ultimately, with kids learning coping skills, the goal is to increase classroom time for them and reduce educational barriers.”
This year, the group plans to ask for requests for proposals that explore the best ideas for creative learning to support Lincoln and Lancaster County youth in their educations.
United Way’s Emerging Leaders United produces events like these to support United Way’s “ENGAGE.EMPOWER.GRADUATE.” initiative, which works to ensure children and their families have the opportunity to succeed in school and life regardless of circumstances.
To learn more about how United Way helps improve lives in this community, visit unitedwaylincoln.org.