People watchin’s as much fun as “eatin’ them wangs”: Knoxville’s Big Kahuna Wing Festival


We’re reposting this piece on the Big Kahuna Wing Festival from the event in 2013.  Tomorrow the 2015 version rolls out from 12 to 8 at World’s Fair Park in Knoxville.  Get ready for the tastiest wings anywhere and for a hot afternoon — wear sunscreen and hats!  You’ll love the vendors, music, people, and, of course, “them wangs”!!

Festivals are all over the place, but if this first Big Kahuna Wing Festival on June 22nd is any indication of things to come, there’ll be a next one, for sure.  It was hot all right.  Temps in World’s Fair Park almost reached three digits if you add the heat of “them wangs” with the afternoon sun and music blasting from the on-fire bands that kept us moving even while lined up waiting for saucy delights.  You could go from tent to tent — getting one free wing and a hole punched in the card you got with your $10-at-the-gate ticket. Or, if you found your favorite and wanted more,  you could pony up an extra buck for another round.

Happy ticket sellers wearing Big Orange!

Happy ticket sellers wearing Big Orange!

The VIP tent sponsored by Aubrey’s was sold out, and that made these ladies might proud and mighty happy!


It was hard work, but someone had to do it, so we roamed the park and sampled the best.  Like Quaker Steak and Lube where the heat kicked in and we held on tight.


We loved watching the shenanigans of the spirited team Trivia Guys almost as much as sampling their tasty wings.  As people plunked down extra tips, these guys did a shout-out — and the crowd gave ’em more!

The team from Trivia Guys was a hoot!

The team from Trivia Guys was a hoot!

Our alma mater — U.T. — passed out entries from the Culinary Institute . . .


and Bert was happy to get an extra wing from Rooster’s when I gave up my ticket for a chance to get a cold bottle of water!


The guys at Flusterclucks won my vote for best T-shirts.  You could try to win one with a dollar donation to benefit Ronald McDonald House and Empty Stocking Fund, the two causes supported by the festival as a whole.

One of the guys from Flusterclucks punches a wing card.

One of the guys from Flusterclucks punches a wing card.

And some folks just went without a shirt.  This guy standing in front of me said he was happy to let me take a picture of his back — or his front, too, for that matter.

So, I asked, when I are you gonna get your legs done? He replied with a smile, That’s comin’ next!


We were tipped off to a “wing ya gotta try” recommendation by someone ahead of us in line at another booth. Try Number 17, he said. But when we got there, the wings were gone.  Given out.  No more.  So we waited (in a patient but hopeful sorta way) for about 30 minutes.  And sure ‘nough, it was worth it.  These wing kings with the name Just Right Wings smoked ’em first, and then added their own recipe for kickin’ good sauce. When I asked if they had a business, I was told, No, ma’am.  We’re just guys who like to tailgate together.

The guys from Just Right Wings

The guys from Just Right Wings

And ’cause they were a bargain, a plate of home-fried potato chips just had to be bought as a side dish.  Look at the size of that stack. (More water, please!)


It wasn’t just wings at Big Kahuna Wing Festival — there were vendors lined up, too.  From those selling art to those offering fudge and even this one giving us a chance to win a free tailgating package.  That’s right.  If we had won, Tailgate Tennessee would have set up our very own tailgate at all home football games.  (Oh, how I wish they’d drawn our name!)


If you thought moonshine was somethin’ just made by the likes of Popcorn Sutton in the hollers of East Tennessee, you can think again.  This new company from Georgia, Moonshine History (, is waiting for their license to sell you gen-u-wine moonshine in the Volunteer State.  (No samples distributed here at Big Kahuna, by the way.)


But Jeff, one of the owners, did have a shirt I liked!

Shine on T-shirt

We stood in the hot sun watching two bands get even hotter.  At 1:30 we loved the pounding rhythms of Aaron Tracy Band — great dancing music for those who could stand the heat.

It was non-stop, hard-hitting music from Aaron Tracy Band.

It was non-stop, hard-hitting music from Aaron Tracy Band.

And at 4:00, the lilting, almost-Caribbean, strands of Dishwater Blonde brought out those who weren’t wilted already. (Loved their bongo drums.)  Who says you can’t have your wings and eat ’em, too?!

Mixing the sound (and eating some wangs!) for Dishwater Blonde.

Mixing the sound (and eating some wangs!) for Dishwater Blonde.

Big people were at BKWF — like Mayor Tim Burchett and meteorologist Todd Howell (who did nothing about that blasted heat!)

Mayor Tim Burchett and meteorologist Todd Howell of WBIR

Mayor Tim Burchett and meteorologist Todd Howell of WBIR

One lady had a showstopper — she brought her own tropical bird.  And how she kept that beauty from performing a flyintotheboothandgrabawing thing is beyond me!


From behind the scenes where the “real” men cook wings on big grills and wear matching t-shirts . . .


to just the average (average?) Joes munching on their favorite spicy ones . . .


the inaugural Big Kahuna Wing Festival was a definite hit!

Can't get enough of these wings!

Can’t get enough of these wings!

Next year (if there is a next year), ya gotta make plans to go!

Big Kahuna Wing Festival:


News-Sentinel Empty Stocking Fund


Ronald McDonald House of Knoxville

11 thoughts on “People watchin’s as much fun as “eatin’ them wangs”: Knoxville’s Big Kahuna Wing Festival

  1. dray0308

    I attended the 1984 World’s Fair in Knoxville. I was 12 years old then and I ate my first Belgium waffle and got to pet the Budweiser horses! Great post!

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      So very glad you made it to Knoxville’s World’s Fair! We did, too. Had season passes even. We now have events on the site, but I miss the constant action the fair brought to our town. Thanks for stopping by the blog!

  2. clay wise

    My wife and I had a great time and met a lot of nice folks there it is truly a family event and is worth all the waiting in lines to get them wants we had a blast can not wait till next years event clay and Patti wise of Knoxville halls area

    1. Rusha Sams

      Wow! Thanks for an update on this year’s event. I heard there was a thunderstorm, but last year there were tents for most people to huddle under. Love hearing from you. Thanks for reading.

      1. quarksire

        yeah i was thinkin it was my imagination but the usa werld seems to be getting bigger in da beer gut an junk fewd arena as a whole, when ya lewk at a pic of a large group nowadayz…frm someone whose been observin fer 57 yearz 🙂 here an dere … take care Q

    1. Rusha Sams

      You are quite welcome! Why can’t someone just hire us to be festival attenders! You know, a little food, a fun time . . . somebody’s gotta do it!

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