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The great wings are just an appetizer

The folks at Winners Sports Grill cooked the best wings last year during the Battle of the Wings at the Wesley Chapel Community Festival. Not only were the tasty chicken wings voted the best by a panel of judges, but the restaurant also took home the People's Choice trophy.

And they are back again to defend their title.

Joining them to vie for the best wings in the area are Beef O'Brady's, Remington Steak House, Outback Steakhouse, W.C. Rubens and Publix.

"This year it will be different," said Ellen Schroeder, president of the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce, the sponsor of the event. "Each restaurant will be given a case of chicken wings to cook for the judges. Everything will depend on their recipe."

So size and shape won't count.

For the public, the restaurants will serve and sell what they normally cook for their customers.

Wings will be two for 50 cents, and the restaurant with the most votes will win the People's Choice Award.

Wing tasting is throughout the day Saturday and Sunday with the winner announced Sunday afternoon. Also to be announced Sunday afternoon will be the new honorary mayor of Wesley Chapel.

The candidates are Joe Caradonna, Russ Miller, Lutfi Jadallah and Susan Frimmel, who bought votes to win. All of the candidates have been out raising money for the chamber with the winner determined by the amount of money raised.

Other festival activities include the Battle of the Bands beginning at 5:45 tonightwith bands playing until 11:15 p.m.

"The four top bands will compete on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. for the top award," said Gary Elmore of Jams, who is chairman of the contest.

Some of the bands to play include Yesterday's Tomorrow, SOS Skateboarding, Purgatory, Cross-Linked and Final Chapter.

On Sunday at 1 p.m. an open blues jam session is scheduled, followed by a rock 'n' roll jam session from 5 to 6 p.m.

The midway will be open every day of the festival with $15 armband tickets available for half-day all-you-can-ride sessions.

Festival visitors can try to win a 2002 Mustang GT convertible from Heritage Ford for $1 a ticket.

"We will only sell 3,500 tickets," said Caradonna, chairman of the festival. "On Sunday afternoon 10 tickets will be selected from those purchased. At 3 p.m. those 10 ticket holders will pick a number, from one to 1,000, out of a fish bowl and if their number matches a pre-determined number, they win the car."

Ticketholders need not be present to win.

An antique car show is set for Saturday and Sunday and a truck pull is scheduled throughout the day Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. Two-person teams (two men, two women, or man and woman) will compete for the best time and distance pulling a truck donated by the Wesley Chapel Athletic Association. Cost is $20 per team to enter and the first prize is $150 with the second place team winning $50. There will be trophies for all three places.

Displays and exhibits will be on the festival grounds today, Saturday and Sunday with local businesses and organizations introducing products and services.

"This is going to be an event to be remembered," said Caradonna. "We have really got a lot more people to step up and make this happen, and a lot of people will benefit from it."

Some of the organizations benefiting from the festival proceeds include school PTAs, Explorers, United Way of Pasco County and the chamber of commerce.