Battle of the Buffalo, an event that started in the lobby of the science building at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, hosted by a fraternity as a social gathering in remembrance of a fallen brother with less than 250 people in attendance in 2008, has since grown to be the South East’s largest wing festival. Why does it continue to grow? Simple; the cause.
In 2007, the men of the Theta Pi chapter of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity lost a brother to leukemia. His name was Paul “Fish” Salmon. His favorite food was chicken wings, so what better way to memorialize him than a wing festival. This small get together now brings in over 2500 attendees and raises over 20,000 dollars. Every year the money is donated to the Russell Hill Cancer Foundation that helped Paul during his fight with cancer and more specifically the Clearview Cancer Institute. Most recently, ATO has partnered with Hudson Alpha and plans to donate a portion of the earnings to their cancer research. Battle of the Buffalo is now not only helping patients through their treatment; it is helping find a cure to cancer.
On September 9th, the brothers of ATO presented CCI with a $21,000.00 check. The check presentation took place right behind a bench that is a memorial to Paul. The 2017 BOTB Marketing Chairman, Jay Johnson, explains the feeling of the check presentation: “Although none of the active brothers in chapter have met Paul, we all feel like we know him. That’s why it is so special to present a check in his honor every year. He continues to impact lives both in ATO and in the Huntsville community.”
Battle of the Buffalo is no easy task either. Planning starts almost immediately following the conclusion of the event every year. Justin Fuller, the 2016 Director of the event said, “The hardest part about planning BOTB is maintaining communication with donors, restaurants and the committee in order to keep everyone one the same page.” Battle of the Buffalo is no longer just an event that serves wings, it is a business. The event is an accumulation of restaurants, live music performances and booths set up by Huntsville businesses. The director is responsible for making decisions anywhere from what time the event will be, all the way to the type of napkins will be provided. He also explains that BOTB is “a constant effort from the Sunday after the previous event to the end of the event the following year.”
The thing that keeps BOTB fresh is its evolution. With every new director comes fresh ideas and new directions for the event. The 2017 Director, Andy Duncan, plans on expanding the event to “host more non-food vendors such as local artists and crafters.” This is a new idea that will hopefully attract a new group of people to the event. Although the event is constantly changing, one thing remains the same; the cause. Andy describes the success of the event by saying, “BOTB grows because we believe in it. It means to all of us that there is a cause much bigger than ourselves and it is our duty to make sure we contribute to it in the best way we can, so we continue to believe that the next year will be bigger, better and impact more lives.”
Round 9 of Battle of the Buffalo is set to take place on April 8th at Big Spring Park in downtown Huntsville. To learn more about this year’s event or how to contribute and be a part of it, head to www.battleofthebuffalo.com or contact email@example.com.