BUFFALO (WKBW) Sixty to eighty thousand people are expected in downtown Buffalo over Labor Day weekend to visit the 13th annual National Buffalo Wing Festival at Coca Cola Field. The event used to be the big and only draw, but not anymore.
"Now when we bring people down for the festival, they don't have to leave to go back to the hotel room. There's so much more to do. It's a sure day trip, it's a true weekend trip. So now people will come to the Wingfest and stay overnight because there's so much more to do," festival organizer Drew Cerza said.
That includes Canalside, just a walk down Washington Street from the festival, now on a record-setting pace for hosting events every day.
"The quality of the food, the quality of the service, the quality of the environment, the beer garden that's there. It's a whole different feel to be on the waterfront now, so it's changed," Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation President Tom Dee said.
Also now up and running and looking to draw part of the wing eating crowd is the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino.
"Bring your ticket stub in after the Wingfest, we'll give you 10 dollars in free play. If you come in September first to the seventh we give you 15 dollars in free play. We had just opened up last year when the Wingfest came through so we missed that opportunity, but we're so happy to be there this year," casino manager Jennifer Caruso said.
Organizers say the more there is to do, the more visitors will be drawn there, the more they will enjoy their time in Buffalo, and the more money they will spend.
"It's win win. I think the Wingfest and all those new assets at Canalside will all benefit. Because when there's more en masse it draws more people because there's more to do, so I think its win win for everybody," Cerza added.
And the horizon is even brighter with possibilities. By next year's festival, Harborcenter will be completed, and so will the historic canals on the Aud Block.
The 13th annual Wing Festival is Labor Day Weekend, August 30th and 31st.