Hundreds take in annual event

EBENSBURG – A light breeze carried the smell of deep-fried chicken wings and french fries across the borough Thursday as spectators flooded Ebensburg for the 10th annual wing competition and car, truck and motorcycle show Wheels and Wings.

Hundreds paused, many snapping photos of the Budweiser Clydesdales as they crossed onto South Center Street before rolling up their sleeves, tucking in a napkin and sinking their teeth into the dozens of wings offered by 20 wing vendors -an event record.

Phyllis Sherry of the Nanty Glo-based Firehouse Wings said her family prepared 600 pounds of wings – including specialty flavors like cheesy garlic and spicy ranch – and between 300 and 400 pounds of sausage, as well as hot dogs and hamburgers.

Sherry said her brother, David McKeel, started selling wings out of a truck called the Weenie Wagon years ago. After it caught fire, he renamed the company Firehouse Wings, she said, and family members continue to help him take the truck to area fairs.

Taking first place in the wing competition was Pizza Hut and WingStreet, which has locations in Ebensburg, Duncansville, Altoona and Johnstown.

The company has won three times in the last seven years, according to District Manager Dave Kutskel, and the fan favorite is garlic parmesan.

Kutskel said when WingStreet first started participating in Wheels and Wings, it had a small 10-by-10-foot tent and a single fryer.

Now standing over seven hot fryers, 14 employees turned out hundreds of pounds of wings, fries and pizza rolls for a line of customers stretching down Sample Street all evening long.

Despite being a chain, all the food is handmade and the employees work hard, Kutskel said. “We take a lot of pride in what we do.”

The heat in the tent was oppressive at times, he continued, but said the event is one of the best things he participates in all year.

“Even when it’s hot, it’s worth it,” he said.

On the other end of town, Ebensburg resident Tim Washko was happy to take in the bikes and cars, but also had his own goal in mind: finding a buyer for his aqua 1965 Chevrolet Nova.

He parked next to his mother’s red 1968 Chevrolet Camaro convertible, which won an award last year.

Washko said he’s tinkered with cars since he was “old enough to pick up a wrench,” and said it’s a family-wide hobby.

He said he’s had the Nova for a few years, though, and it’s time for the next project.

“About 30 people took my phone number,” he added.

Mirror Staff Writer Kelly Cernetich is at 946-7520.