WingZilla/RibZilla is this Saturday

Nolan & Natalie Styles ready for the Luau ATV Poker Run in 2018. (COURTESY PHOTO). 

BERLIN — Celebrate the last days of summer and eat some amazing ribs and wings at WingZilla/RibZilla this Saturday, Sept. 7 at Service Credit Union Heritage Park.

Take part in the Luau Porker Run, root for your favorite in the KillaZilla hot wing eating contest, or listen to some music beside the Androscoggin River. There are corn hole and horseshoe tournaments and a kid zone with face painting and a power wheels obstacle course.

“It’s a fun end-of-the-summer bash,” said Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Paula Kinney.

Grill teams with names like Road Hawg BBQ, Bone Yard Wings, Smokin Ribbie J’s, Chamberz Wingz, and Chaos in Coos will be competing for bragging rights.

Kinney said as of Tuesday morning ten vendors had signed up with half competing in both the chicken and rib competitions. Some teams will put forward multiple entries. And there is still time for more to join the competition – teams can register through Friday.

Kinney said she expects the competition will be tough. Last year’s first place and people’s choice winner in the ribs contest, Smokin Ribbie J’s, is returning to defend its title. Boneyard Wings is returning and last year the team went home with the People’s Choice Award for their wings.

After an absence of two years, Kinney said former three-time winner, Mark Belanger of Gorham, is returning as Chamberz Wingz.

“He’s coming back with his award winning wings,” she warned.

New this year is Ben’s Saucy Hawg, staffed by the mud pit crew from the Jericho ATV festival.

“They don’t just do mud,” said Kinney. “They do sauce too.”

Hot, spicy, teriyaki, fried, smoked, barbeque, sweet and sour — there is a recipe to suit all taste buds. Last year, close to 3,000 pounds of wings and ribs were consumed at WingZilla/RibZilla.

The cooking starts at noon and the competitors will offer their ribs and wings for sale. The beer tent is open all day, offering a frosty beverage to counter the hot wings and ribs.

There are also People and Kid’s Choice awards given out based on voting by the public.

The park opens at 9 a.m. for registration for the poker run, corn hole tournament, and horseshoe tournament.

Sponsored by Professional Firefighters of Berlin Local 1088, the Luau ATV Poker Run raises money for Operation Warm, which provides new winter coats to area kids. Kinney said the poker run is open as well to cars and motorcycles with enough stops for them to compete. There are prizes for the top three hands, the worst hand, and the best use of theme. Most participants get into the Hawaiian theme and the costumes and decorations are always fun to see.

A kids’ zone will be set up in the park with face and rock painting, Bobo T. Clown, a Power Wheelers obstacle course, and a mine sluice.

At 5 p.m. a panel of distinguished judges will sample all the entries and determine the winners in each division. The public’s votes will be tallied to see who wins the People and Kid’s choice Awards.

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Throughout the day, except for a small booth run by the Berlin Youth Hockey program, vendors are limited to cooking ribs and wings. Once the judging is over though, the grill masters are free to open up their grills and cook an assortment of fair food.

After the judging comes a crowd favorite - the KillaZilla Hot Wing Eating Contest. You have to have a cast iron digestive tract to handle the special sauce former Berlin firefighter Bill Maddelena cooks up. Tina Mann has the technique down because she is a frequent winner and will be there this year to defend her title. The winner takes home a basket of prizes.

The evening wraps up with music from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. by the local favorite group, “Last Kid Picked”.

Admission is free and OHRV hours are extended until 10 p.m. for Saturday to allow riders to enjoy the festivities and get back to their lodging in a timely manner. Kinney asks that riders respect the extension.

WingZilla/Rib/Zilla is sponsored by the chamber, New Hampshire Distributors/Bud Light, Brookfield, and Capone Iron Corporation Northwoods.

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