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Chicken wings, new location a hit at festival

Velma and Roland Miller came to the Wesley Chapel Community Festival Saturday just to eat chicken wings at the Wing Fest.

For $3 they were able to sample two wings each from six area restaurants.

"It was worth the trip," said Velma Roland, who drove from New Port Richey with her husband. "We are stuffed."

In addition to the wings, celery sticks and ranch dressing were given with each sample.

They agreed Beef O'Brady's were the best.

"They offered an assortment from mild to hot," she said.

The other restaurants that participated in the Wing Fest were W.C. Rubens, Remington's Steakhouse, Outback, Publix and Winners Sports Grill.

Judy Pearson of Temple Terrace, who was at the three-day festival with the Modern Mustangs of Tampa Bay Car Club, liked the Remington's Steakhouse wings the best.

"They are messy but wonderful," she said.

Christopher Kibitz, the chef at Remington's, said his recipe is a combination of sweet, sour and something secret.

"The secret makes the sweet and sour blend in the middle," said Kibitz.

Late Saturday afternoon a panel of judges sampled the wings and decided the best wings in Wesley Chapel this year are made by Kibitz and his crew at Remington's. Last year, Winners Sports Grill won the title.

Ellen Schroeder, president of the Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce, the sponsor of the festival, was pleased with the 3-year-old event.

"This one looks like it might make money," Schroeder said, referring to the crowd and the good location. "But money isn't the only issue: it is the community spirit and this looks good."

This year's festival was along State Road 54, less than a mile west of Interstate 75.

In addition to the Wing Fest there was a Battle of the Bands on Friday night.

"The kids had a blast last night," Gary Elmore, chairman for the band contest and owner of Jam Music in Wesley Chapel, said Saturday. "But, there wasn't enough time to get all the bands on, so six are returning tonight."

The bands were high school, Christian and a few rising stars.

"Some have the real potential for making it big," said Elmore.

The free festival was so popular this year, that it ran out of parking places Friday night said Joann Showalter of Tampa.

"This is much better than the one I went to two years ago," she said. "It is bigger and more organized."

Another highlight of the festival was the culmination of the competition for honorary mayor of Wesley Chapel. Four contestants had been selling votes for weeks and the one with the most money would win the title.

Vying for the title are Russ Miller, Lufti Jadallah, Joe Caradonna and Susan Frimmel. Proceeds would benefit the chamber.

Saturday afternoon Frimmel was taking her turn in the dunk tank. Later, Frimmel was named honorary mayor for raising $1,400.

Chris Drews from Zephyrhills was spending some money trying to dunk Frimmel. For $10 and 25 balls he got to see her get soaked three times.

After her second dunk, Frimmel shouted to Drews that "paybacks are tough."

"We work together at Relay for Life," said Drews.

Caradonna, chairman of the festival, was pleased with the event.

"It is absolutely fabulous," he said. "Everyone is having a great time."