By Eric Kuznar
The Lawrence Police Dept. was victorious against the Lawrence Fire Dept. in the inaugural Wingin’ It With Our First Responders wing-eating contest, which kicked off the Fourth of July holiday weekend in Lawrence July 1 at the Theatre at the Fort.
The Lawrence Buffalo Wild Wings sponsored and provided the food for the competition. The Lawrence police and fire departments competed for bragging rights, with money raised from the event going to the Susan B. Jordan Memorial Fund, which was established byt the Lawrence Township Foundation in memory of the late Amy Beverland Elementary principal killed a school bus accident earlier this year.
“Lawrence is really an all-American city,” event master of ceremonies Ray Cocks said. “We have a great fourth of July celebration here every year.”
Lawrence Mayor Steve Collier first hatched the idea of a wing eating competition when the city’s Buffalo Wild Wings was opening and he was talking with manager Jeff Henkels.
“Jeff and I were just joking back and forth about having an eating contest,” Collier said. “I said, ‘Well the LPD and LFD are pretty competitive,’ and from there it just blossomed into this.”
Collier said the police and fire departments were a natural choice for the competition. In the end, Police Chief David Hofmann and his team of four officers beat out Fire Chief Dino Batalis and his squad in the relay-race-style eating contest that featured Buffalo Wild Wings’ two hottest sauces.
“They are just very competitive,” Collier said. ”We knew that they would take it very seriously.”
For the holiday weekend following the contest, the Lawrence Buffalo Wild Wings donated 10 percent of its proceeds to the Susan B. Jordan Memorial Fund.
Following the contest, the Heartland Big Band presented its “Let Freedom Swing” concert inside the Theater at the Fort to appropriately ring in the Fourth of July weekend.