By Peter Schwartz
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Only 63,000 fans will have the chance to see Super Bowl XLIX in person when the Patriots and Seahawks take the field at University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona this Sunday. However, many more football fans will still be a part of the action by either hosting or attending Super Bowl parties throughout the country.

Many of these parties will certainly include the very popular delicacy known as Buffalo wings.

“You want to get into the game and the spirit of the game,” said Matthew Kourie, co-founder of www.BestWingsLI.com. “You’re not going to get there with a sandwich or a salad.  Wings are so easy to eat and they’re so much fun.”

Buffalo wings have traditionally been a big hit with sports fans, but the phenomenon reaches new heights on Super Sunday.  Focusing on the game is very important, but so is taking care of that appetite. It doesn’t take long to reach over to the tray and grab a wing.  In fact, you can do it well before the next snap takes place.

“They’re small,” said Kourie.  “You take a couple of bites and you get your face all messy with the sauce, and you look back at the game and you start cheering for the team you love. It just brings people together. You can put about 50 of them down no problem, so it’s a real kind of sports food.”

As legend has it, the Buffalo wing was created in 1964 at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo. Chicken wings were typically used for soup or thrown away, but the restaurant’s owner, Teressa Bellissimo, decided to deep-fry some wings and serve them up with blue cheese.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

“She made some sauce and cooked them up, and all of a sudden they liked it and began serving it at the bar,” said Kourie. “Then, it ended up on the menu and it snowballed in the area. And now here we are, 50 years later, they’re being served in pretty much every restaurant that you can eat at in America.”

Kourie and his website partner, Rob Wittman, have become Buffalo wing connoisseurs. The Long Islanders were musicians in a rock band and would frequently go out for wings after rehearsals and shows. Their ritual was to go to the same place for wings over and over again, until they realized that they were missing out on so much more.

“Why don’t we go to every restaurant around eastern New York and Long Island?” Kourie asked his buddy.

So they embarked on an adventure that resulted in the creation of their website in 2011. The site provides reviews of local restaurants and serves as a go-to resource for Buffalo wing diehards looking for the best places to go.  After the launch of their website, Kourie and Wittman received requests to judge wing festivals all over eastern New York.

Judging all those wing contests gave them another idea.

“We have to do something big,” said Kourie.  “We have to bring the wing community together and do something awesome.”

And that’s how they came up with the idea to create “The New York Best Wings Festival.” The inaugural event will take place on Saturday, June 7, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the NYCB Theatre in Westbury.

The event will be a big party for both wing makers and wing eaters, as well as sauce makers and over 50 vendors that represent different types of foods.

“We looked around and said a wing festival is the king of food festivals,” said Kourie. “You can create such a wild and hilarious environment around this food.  We have to throw a massive festival to bring all the wing fans together from all areas to have a super best-wings championship, which is what we’re doing.”

In addition to the wide array of wings and sauces that will be available, the festival will feature other activities including amusements, face painting, and craft beer tastings. You can get more information on the festival here.

But first things first!

There is business to take care of this Sunday, both on and off the field.  While the Patriots and Seahawks battle it out for the Vince Lombardi Trophy, football fans all over the nation will be battling each other at parties to get their hands on those Buffalo wings.

But what if you happen to show up to a party that doesn’t have any wings?

“That’s blasphemy!” said Kourie. “You’re not having a Super Bowl party at that point.”

And that’s when you say, “Oh man, I forgot something in my car,” and you bolt out the door and head to another party.

Let’s face it: It’s not “Super Sunday” without Buffalo wings!

Where do you go for your favorite wings? Let me know on Twitter @pschwartzcbsfan. You can also follow Long Island’s Best Wings @BestWingsLI and the New York Best Wings Festival @WingsNBeerFest.

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