LIMA — “When am I going to be able to get my wings?”
That was the question St. Gerard Festival organizer Michael Mays kept getting as the festival’s fate continued to be up in the air all summer.
“When we moved back the festival originally, the question we kept getting was ‘Where’s the wings? I miss my wings,’” he laughed. “We knew we had to brainstorm an idea of how to offer the wings but offer them in a safe way.”
The festival, originally scheduled to kick off the summer June 5 through 7, was postponed to July 31 through Aug. 2. However, last month the organizers knew there was no way to safely hold one of the city’s most anticipated festivals.
“We just built a brand new elementary and this is our first year into that. With the added expenses of that and those lost with school closing in spring, we needed to have some type of fundraiser and everyone really wanted the wings,” Mays said.
Thus, the St. Gerard Drive-thru Wingfest was born.
This year, parishioners and community members will still get their taste of the festival by just pulling into the parking lot and placing an order. The menu will include fresh-cut french fries, homemade fried rice and eggrolls, baked goods and, of course, the famous St. Gerard chicken wings.
The parish began making the wings in the 1980s, totaling more than 87,500 pounds since then and earning a spot in The Lima News’ Best of the Region honorable mention for best wings despite being just a yearly event.
“I don’t know the exact background, but at some point, we just started doing wings,” Mays said. “We have several trailers and special grills built just to make them. They’re all charcoal-cooked wings with our special seasoning made just for them. We’re planning on preparing about 2,000 pounds for Saturday. A typical festival is a little over 4,000 pounds, so that’s still a lot of wings for a one-day event.”
Mays said they’re even planning to have a DJ out in the parking lot to help make it feel as festival-like as possible.
“Beyond just the money, this festival brings all of the parish and all of the community together, and that’s another thing we were looking at with this event is bringing people together safely,” Mays said. “People are bored stuck at home looking to do something but in a safe way. This is something to do, and gives them something different than the typical fair food.”
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.