This dancing chicken will have a new move when Downtown Pittsfield Inc. brings the Wing Fling downtown.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The two-decade old Wing Fling is moving north — as in closer to North Street.
The contest that attracts nearly 1,000 residents each year to Berkshire Community College to indulge in the area's best chicken wings will no longer be put on by the Pittsfield Family YMCA. Downtown Pittsfield Inc. is taking over the event and with that, bringing it to the city's center.
"We're looking to bring more businesses and people to the downtown and this event fits our mission more than it does the Y," Downtown Pittsfield Executive Director Pamela Tobin said on Tuesday.
The Wing Fling was started in 1991 as a fundraiser for the YMCA. But the YMCA recently went through a nationwide rebranding with focuses on healthy living, social responsibility and youth development.
Organizers no longer see an evening of mouth-burning gluttony fitting into that mission but they also didn't want to lose such a long-standing event.
Randy Kinnas, YMCA executive director, sits on the Board of Directors of DPI and offered it to the association, whose job is to promote and advocate for the downtown corridor. The two nonprofits are not in competition with one another and the more vibrant downtown is, the more vibrant the YMCA can be, and the happier the businesses represented by DPI.
"The Wing Fling simply does not fit in with our three areas of focus," said Kinnas in a prepared statement. “We plan to serve our community through quality services and programming and our General Scholarship Campaign which provides financial assistance to those who need our services.”
Bringing thousands of people to the city hub to indulge in beer and chicken wings, however, certainly helps local businesses.
"We feel with the amount of restaurants downtown, it would be good to get as many of them participating," Tobin said, adding that eventually the group wants to expand the number of restaurants involved. "Our mission is to bring revitalization to downtown."
The association is currently looking to hold the event on Saturday, June 29, from 6 until 11 p.m. (starting one hour earlier that previously) but a location is not yet known.
"We're still in the process of nailing it down ... But our goal is to bring it downtown," Tobin said.
While the first year may be organized similar to those before, Tobin said the group's experience with hosting events makes it capable of expanding on the popular competition.
"We want to build on its success and see what works well and see if we can enhance it," Tobin said.
The event has been one of the largest fundraisers for the YMCA and it will still reap some benefit. Downtown Pittsfield is donating 10 percent of the proceeds to the YMCA. The rest of the money will help DPI launch some new initiatives or build on current ones intended to breath more life into the city.