WingFest 2008 was a flop

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I’m writing this under the more than likely false assumption that the directors of WingFest 2008 will actually read it. That the people responsible for the event that took place this past May in Moosic, Pennsylvania on Montage Mountain are savvy enough to open a Web browser and search the Internet using Google.

In fact, I may even be a bit naive to assume that the directors of this event are even human. I mean, they could be some sort of halfling that has hooves for hands and lives under a bridge living off of rats and other small rodents that wash up in the spring floods. You’d have to be to have enjoyed yourself at WingFest 08.

I’m really dumbfounded at what they were thinking when they planned this event. But then sometimes I step back and wonder if it was all just poorly executed. That someone had the, what I still think is an excellent idea, of having a Wing and Beer event at a local ski lodge in the spring.  That inviting the areas best makers of Chicken Wings and bars with the best beer together in one area to show off their culinary arts. To hire a few local bands to entertain the crowds as they eat, drink, and be merry. But that isn’t what happened.

WingFest 08 was a horrible attempt at making money when it should have been a nearly free way to advertise all the companies involved in the event. It wasn’t a way to market Sno Mountain’s facilities. It wasn’t a way for the competing restaurants to battle for your favorite local chicken wing.  It wasn’t an event for local brewers to come together and get you to experience new beers. And it certainly wasn’t entertaining.

What went wrong? Lets start with the advertising. Here is their flyer for the event. Here are the details that it shows as plainly as daylight shines:

  • the event is from 2pm to 7pm,
  • you get 7 free beer samples,
  • it is sponsored by Rock 107 and Sno Cove,
  • and it costs $10 (for adults).

Lets take these in order and relate what actually did happen. Yes, the event was open from 2pm to 7pm – but, the caveat was that if you were not there within the first hour, you wouldn’t get any beer samples. This wasn’t a known fact, even to the directors of the event, prior to somewhere around 3:30pm when the beer samples ran out. To quote the gentleman behind the beer-sample-table after he was questioned why they ran out of beer: “Why are we out of beer? Because we’ve been here all day!”. I guess “all day” is 1 hour and 30 minutes. Everyone that was in line for beer samples, who only had 4 tickets for samples not 7 mind you, was asked to please go to the other pay-for-beer tables. Oh, so I can pay for my free beer samples? Thanks.

Lets take a second to actually talk about the beer samples themselves. Pennsylvania is privileged enough to have quite a number of distinguished brewers. The list of Pennsylvania brewers is quite extensive and I’m proud to say I’ve tasted a fairly good number of the beers on the list. Now, the advertising explicitly stated which beers were available to sample – so I don’t want to make it sound as if I expected a wide array of Pennsylvania brews to be available for sampling – but what they were serving, I think, was atrocious. They were giving people a few ounces of beer straight from a bottle, which came from a case, which came from the distributor down the street. Classy.

The flyer stated that the event was sponsored by Rock 107 and Sno Cove. By the way, Sno Cove is the name of the Ski Lodge’s summer recreational area. Being a local event, with food, beer, and rock and roll – I think Rock 107 was a brilliant sponsor. Needing space, a cool, central location with both indoor and outdoor facilities, I also think Sno Cove was the right choice for a venue. But lets get one thing straight; this event was not sponsored by either of these companies. It was sponsored by the attendees.

Admission into WingFest 08 cost $10 for adults. Parking was free. Seven people, including myself and Eliza and four of our friends, went in our group. Quick math shows that WingFest raked in $70 for us to get a wrist band. We didn’t get the beer samples we were promised, so the event was in the positive for our group there. None of the wings being presented were free, so the event and the bringers-of-the-heat were in the positive with our group there. I didn’t even pay attention to the music (more on this in a second). And Sno Cove managed to pull a few more bills from our hands for beer (since we didn’t even get any stinkin’ samples) from the bar inside. (Side note: The beer tent outside was incredibly crowded, full of people smoking, and it was raining. The bar inside was the better choice.)

I didn’t mention the music as part of the “false advertising” because, as far as I know, the bands that showed up were the bands they said would show up. I would have no idea otherwise. However, there is no way anyone really could enjoy the music the way the venue was laid out. When at an event serving good food, good drinks, and good music – you would generally think that you’d want to enjoy all three at the same time, right? You would think that when you walked in to WingFest 08 you’d have a checklist with you, wherein you’d find a type of Wing you really like, buy a half-dozen or so, pick up a few beers, and listen to some music. Not at this event. In my opinion there was no really good way to enjoy all three things at once. The food, and their respective lines, were facing north away from the mountain. The beer tent, which as I said was incredibly difficult to navigate and you’d be hard pressed to have a bunch of wings in your hand in there, was facing west towards the building. The band? They were facing directly towards the mountain.I wish I had the time to draw up aschematic. You’d laugh yourself right out of whatever you’re sitting in right now.

Lets talk about the good part of WingFest 08 now. The wings. Most of the wings I had tasted great.As my wife Eliza mentioned in her post about WingFest the first wings we tried were disgusting and cold. But the lack of any sort of line for this particular wing should have tipped us off I suppose. The rest were actually pretty good and I’d have them again. My only complaint, I guess, is that the wings were overpriced. They tried to make it easy by making the price $1 for three wings. Which seems like a steal I’m sure! But, remember we paid $10 to get into the event. Also keep in mind that at most “wing joints” there is something called .25-cent wing night. This means four wings for $1. I’m assuming that on these nights they still turn a profit, so that means that for WingFest 08 they were making even a little more. For the entry fee for Eliza and I alone, we could have gotten 80 wings on .25-cent wing night. I bet that Eliza and I, combined, had 24 wings at WingFest 08.

I guess what I was looking for was some effort in making an event to showcase Sno Cove’s summer facilities, the wing joint’s wings battling side-by-side for my stomach’s attention, some cold local beer, and some good rock riffs at an affordable price. What we got was wallet raped, soaking wet, ended up leaving hungry and thirsty, and had to pay for every single step of it.

If they do WingFest in 2009 my only suggestion would be to add a well staffed refund table near the exit.