A festival for chicken wings? The first annual Wing Wars of Acadiana is taking place Saturday at Parc International in Lafayette. This event will have live music, kids activities, vendors, eating competitions and plenty of chicken wings.
Founder David Owens wanted to use the event to celebrate one of his favorite foods and benefit a great local cause.
"The Wing Wars is a fundraiser and community awareness event," Owens explains. "All the proceeds are going back to support Gifting Grace Project to help homeless children in our communities. It's a festival that we're trying to put together for all things chicken wings."
Gifting Grace Project was created as a way to help with childhood homelessness because of natural disasters and COVID. Owens has spent part of his life working in hospice as a chaplain. He has always felt led to give to others and the many tragedies of 2020 made him feel there is more he could be doing to help.
In the beginning phases Owens was unsure how to reach this demographic of children. Around October of 2020 he mentioned his idea to a friend he used to work with.
"I was thinking about Christmas a couple months ahead," he says. "What can we do for Christmas to maybe help a couple families who have experienced a lot of difficult seasons this year. I couldn't come up with anything. I was like, 'I mean, we obviously work in hospice. So we're always giving. But it's like who do we know that really needs help?' The first name that popped into my mind I called. Her name is Jacey Lopez."
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"I called and I said, 'Jacey I don't know if you know anybody. who is desperately in need of help this year.' She said, 'David, right now we have close to 600 homeless LPSS students'. And I was like, Okay, listen, I can't take on 600 students, I don't even know what I do with 100. But I said give me 100 students that are overlooked."
Together they found the group at highest risk, teenagers, and began making a Christmas list for the students. They also shared the information online for others to offer support. They were able to provide presents to 218 students in both Lafayette and Iberia Parish. Additionally they helped three families find long term housing.
After providing those students with Christmas gifts Owens started to return life to business as usual. The members of his community quickly began to ask when the next event would be held for students. At that time he said he was not prepared to undertake the responsibility of another project but, he went to God for guidance and officially put the plans in place for the Giving Grace Project. He chose that name because in the Bible grace is defined as "... the spontaneous, unmerited gift of the divine favor," and that is what this non-profit hopes to give the children of Acadiana.
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Since the first Christmas drive the Gifting Grace Project has been able to provide hundreds of at-risk Acadiana students with school supplies, uniforms, shoes and Christmas gifts. Wing Wars of Acadiana is the next step in continuing these services.
The festival will begin at 11 a.m. at Parc International. Wristbands cost $15 per person. Children under the age of 12 are admitted free with an adult.
Wristband admission includes: entry into all festival areas, access to food booths, live music and kids zone and six complimentary wing tasting tickets —1 wing per ticket— . Additional wings are available for purchase. Family passes are also an option and include 16 wing tickets and four drinks.
Volunteers are still being accepted for the event. All volunteers will receive free entry to the event. To purchase wristbands, register to volunteer and for additional information on the festival visit wingwarsofacadiana.com
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