Chicken is a typical menu item for political fundraisers. It's almost typical to move from cocktails to a table in a drab hotel ballroom in order to eat a plate of rubber chicken.
Republican fourth ward council nominee Keith Loughlin went a little off topic with chicken at his Monday night fundraiser, hosting a chicken wing eating contest and barbeque in a Bell Drive backyard. This is the second unusual fundraiser for Loughlin, who is challenging Democratic Councilman Tom Bigosinki. The first was a kickball game in June.
"The point of tonight is to have another event for people to have a good time," he said. "I wanted to have another unusual event. I have never been to a wing eating contest as a fundraiser. I tend to do things besides the typical cocktail parties."
The event drew about 40 guests, mainly from Westfield, but also Republican dignitaries from neighboring communities. The main event featured four contestants trying to eat as many wings as possibly in front of the crowd. Jamie Wisniewski, a recent graduate of Westfield High School, bested the other four contestants by eating 23 wings.
"I'm honored and excited," Wisniewski said moments after winning the first ever Loughlin chicken wing trophy.
Second place went to Garwood Councilman Anthony Sytko, who is a Republican nominee for county freeholder in November. Robbie Ciarrocca, the son of Third Ward Councilman Mark Ciarrocca, finished third and Melissa Bakunas took fourth in the competition. Loughlin patterned the contest after the recent Coney Island chicken wing eating competition, allowing five minutes for wing eating. The wings were purchased from Hershey's Deli.
With wing eating contests being a mainstay of the Buffalo region, Loughlin said he wanted to be able to bring such a contest to Westfield because of his love of the food.
"They taste good," he said. "I think the hot dog contest is copyrighted."