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17th Annual Budweiser Wing Fling
Sat., March 23rd
11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Carolina Beach Boardwalk
200 Cape Fear Blvd., Carolina Beach
GA: $15 • VIP (11 a.m. entry): $20

Wing Fling guests partake in the booze and bones at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk. Courtesy photo

Wing Fling guests partake in the booze and bones at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk. Courtesy photo

Wings, wine, warm weather; yes, it’s the quadruple threat of alliteration and the 17th annual Budweiser Wing Fling. Kicking off this Saturday, folks can flock to Carolina Beach’s colorful boardwalk to judge the best of fowl extremities and guzzle down some booze in the process. Oh, plus it’s a fund-raiser for Wilmington’s Residential Adolescent Achievement Place (WRAAP), Step Up For Soldiers, Federal Point Help Center and UNCW’s business fraternity.

Founded by UNCW grad Sandra Miller in 1997, the annual Wing Fling has given over $250,000 to WRAAP, National Education Foundation scholarship fund, Pi Sigma Epsilon, Child Advocacy Commission and others. Once a stay-at-home mom, Miller decided to go back to school and realized that in order to make it in the real world she needed experience that doesn’t come from the classroom. Miller’s original reason for starting the project was due to lack of funds that enable the business fraternity [Pi Sigma Epsilon] to participate in national conventions around the states.

Miller explains, “We had to pay out of our pockets. There are phenomenal companies like Enterprise and Hershey that support the business fraternity and hire our brothers every day to start on their management and sales level. We didn’t have that opportunity because we didn’t have the money to send students to go.”

Even though the wing fling is quickly headed toward age 20, Miller is still contributing. Event coordinator Dr. Lynnea Mallalieu adds, “She now organizes all the servers and beer tent volunteers at the event. They are adult volunteers who are trained and certified to serve beer. She is a great help! And it is successful because the students work hard to organize and promote it, and it has a following.”

“It’s my baby; I love to see it every time it comes around.” Miller continues, “it’s a pretty amazing thing to feel like you’ve created something that has stayed and gotten better and has far exceeded any of my expectations.”

Not only the attendees and volunteers are loyal; restaurants like Elijah’s have been participating since the inaugural year. Elijah’s manager Kevin Stone says, “We want to stay a part of the community. Community involvement is so important to us.” Elijah’s and their sister-restaurant Pilot House have won wing fling competition last year and a few times before. Though their flavors are yet to be decided, folks could very well taste their classic Teriyaki, spicy BBQ, Ranch or other tongue-sizzling flavors.

Other than Elijah’s, guests can indulge wings from Rucker Johns, Kick Back Jacks, Halligan’s Public House, Might As Well and The Dive Food & Spirits. Beer and wine will be available for purchase, too, featuring craft beer from Shock Top ($2.50), along with other Anheuser Busch products. There will be red, white and rose wine from Copa Di Vino ($5) as well.

Attendees can gulp down wings and drinks and reminisce in the warm feeling that comes with supporting (local) charities. Wilmington’s Residential Adolescent Achievement Place (WRAAP), Delta Tau chapter of Pi Sigma Epsilon, Step up for Soldiers, and Federal Help Point Center will all receive proceeds for 2013.

WRAAP was a charity recommended by Budweiser, the title sponsor. Mallalieu adds, “They knew we were looking to support a children’s charity in Wilmington and Budweiser had supported WRAAP before. The charity is also a governor’s choice charity for the great work they do with children.” WRAAP has started afterschool programs that promote self-reliance and healthy lifestyles through education, mentoring and advocacy. The goal is to overcome the gaps in education that are a result of social differences that hinder our community’s youth to succeed.

Step Up For Soldiers came at the suggestion of the manager from The Dive in Carolina Beach. “That [participant] is, so far, our only local Carolina Beach restaurant,” Mallalieu says, “so we wanted their input about local favorite charities.” STFS helps provide resources to disabled veterans who now have mobility problems along with supporting their adjustment in post-war environment.

Last year, the event helped support the Federal Point Help Center, which supports residents in need of food, clothing, utility bills, rent and other areas. “Members of the Carolina Beach Arts and Activities Committee suggested we give to them again, as there is a great need for the work they do in Carolina Beach,” Mallalieu tells. Last year $15,000 was raised. This year they are hoping to give at least another $10,000.

Music will add to the eating, drinking and fund-raising, as local band Nautilus, formed in 2010 by UNCW students, will be performing at 12:30 p.m. Before their groovy sounds of Phish-meets-The Grateful Dead, the Cape Fear Wrecking Crew will play at 11 a.m. The Hackens Boys from Virginia will headline the soirée at 2 p.m.

The students chose the locally known act since the bands coincide greatly with the Wing Fling demographic: college students. “The band coming in from Virginia was one of several that were recommended by regional promoters,” Mallalieu says, “and their Southern rock/country-style is different from the local acts, which gives us good diversity in music. Plus, they were willing to donate their playing time to help us with raising money for charity.”

Other sponsors from the Cape Fear area include The Fuzzy Peach, Carolina Cove Apartments, Jimmy Johns, Cheerwine and Hurricane Alley’s. Tickets can be purchased by visiting General admission is $15 and VIP is $20, which includes a free shuttle to the event and early entry through a VIP gate. There is also free overnight parking in any Carolina Beach public parking lot. The website also shows other transit and taxis available to get back and forth from the Wing Fling. Attendees must be 21 years or older and show a valid ID.

Miller says, “I appreciate everybody who has supported us throughout the years. John Evans -since its conception, Carolina beach who opened their arms to us when we needed a home and all the students who come and make it a wonderful event every year.”

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