The Springfield, Missouri, Hy-Vee took home five awards in the 17th annual Springfield Sertoma Wingapalooza™ event – which claims to be America’s original buffalo wing festival – on November 4. More than 40 local restaurants and teams participated, with ticket proceeds benefiting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Springfield.
Wingapalooza™ features top live bands from around the Midwest and more than 100,000 wings to sample from southwest Missouri’s best wing spots.
Hy-Vee won “Rookie of the Year” in 2012, but hadn’t placed since then. This year, however, the Springfield Hy-Vee team stepped up their game by frying on-site during the event.
“We brined the competition wings for 24 hours. Prior to frying, we breaded them in flour and corn starch to enhance the texture before frying,” said Michelle Caenepeel, marketing and merchandising director for the store. “We didn’t try to get crazy with ingredients. We utilized the Market Grille buffalo sauce, the Korean BBQ sauce used in some of the Market Grille dishes, and a sriracha honey sauce we adapted from the Market Grille. We just enhanced the already great sauces we use in the Market Grille.”
That effort, combined with some delicious new sauce options, helped Hy-Vee win the following awards:
· 1st Runner-up: Fattest Cluck – Hy-Vee raised the second-most money for the Boys and Girls Clubs through offering balloon pets, available for a donation.
· 1st Runner-up: Traditional buffalo sauce (Hy-Vee’s Market Grille buffalo sauce)
· 1st Runner-up: BBQ (Chef Stephen Clark prepared a Korean BBQ sauce)
· 1st Runner-up: Overall points for all judged wings
· Champion: Boneless wings (Sauced with a sriracha, honey and soy sauce adapted from Market Grille sauces)
Caenepeel, Chef Stephen and Gail Maize, human resources manager, decorated Hy-Vee’s booth with a barnyard theme, creating a fun atmosphere to engage the crowds.
Caenepeel said the store plans to display the five new award plaques in the store’s Market Grille.