5 Questions: Angelo Notaro

Angelo Notaro with the Wing Fest mascot (Photo provided)

By Alison Rooney

Angelo “Big Ang” Notaro is the founder of the annual Hudson Valley Wing Fest, which takes place in Poughkeepsie on Jan. 26. See bap.ticketleap.com/hv-wingfest-12.

Angelo Notaro with the Wing Fest mascot (Photo provided)

Your day job is as a host on K104.7, which is based in Beacon. How did you get into the food festival business?
I grew up in the restaurant business, so when I went to a wing event, I thought I could do better. Chicken just has a great taste — if it’s cooked right, it’s a winner. I focused on getting the freshest wings, the most flavors and options.

Is the wing fest a competition?
It’s a tasting event. We get the best wing restaurants, caterers and food trucks — there are more than 30 this year — and they compete in categories such as dry rub, Buffalo wings, hottest and for King of the Wings. [In 2018, Whistling Willies of Cold Spring and Fishkill won in the barbecue and most creative categories.] They’re all neighborhood places. The only chain is Planet Wing, but they built their empire out of Middletown.

How far will people come for wings?
Rhode Island, Vermont, Philadelphia — it’s unbelievable. Each year a few hundred come up on the train from the city. Last year we had more than 2,800 people, all of them ready to eat.

There isn’t much to a wing. Do people get full?
Are you kidding? With general admission, you get about 35 wings [with a guarantee of at least one per stall]. With VIP, it’s all you can handle plus cider and beer, and you get in 90 minutes early. If you’re hungry and fast, you can enter the wing-eating competition. Last year the winner consumed 18 wings in 1:44. The prize money is $1,047. We give the leftover wings, and a share of the profits, to a group called Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, which donates food to homeless shelters and to feed the hungry.

What if wings aren’t your thing?
I have a bunch of other festivals: Chowder Fest on March 9, and Bacon Bash, Mac & Cheese Fest, Taco Fest, Seafood Festival. Pizza and Meatball Fest. I’m a popular guy in the Hudson Valley! At Wing Fest we have other stuff going on like live music and a wing illusion show. The magician will have something special up his sleeves. I can’t reveal what that is.

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