Big Kahuna Festival returns in September

Big Kahuna Wing Festival, recently named a Super Regional Qualifier for the World Food Championships, is returning to downtown Knoxville this fall. 

The eighth annual event, scheduled to take place from 3 to 9 p.m., Sept. 5, on the World’s Fair Park Performance Lawn – between the Sunsphere and 11th Street in downtown Knoxville — will feature more than 15,000 pounds of wings to be enjoyed by attendees and WFC’s E.A.T.-certified judges. Participating teams have a chance to win a $10,000 prize purse and “Tennessee’s Best Wings-2021” award.

“I’m obviously excited to be able to have it again,” said Matt Beeler, the festival’s founder and owner of Farragut’s Big Kahuna Wings, 12828 Kingston Pike, as well as a BKW along Montview Road in Knoxville.

“After last year, not being able to (hold the event), it’s nice that we can get back to giving back to the charitable organizations,” he added. “That was, for me, what hurt the most about not having (the festival) last year, was knowing those dollars the organizations depend on weren’t there for them.”

This year, he said the entire layout of the festival has been changed to better accommodate all the patrons.

“We have created what we are calling a Patron Village,” he said. The Village will incorporate lounge tents, the contest stage, an area serving beer and other beverages, with a silent auction and games to be held in a Kid’s Zone.

Additionally, Beeler said, “we are going back to the roots of the World’s Fair Park” and will have “the wings around the world pavilion, where we’ll have wings from 10 different countries.

“The competition wings will be part of what the patrons can sample with the wings tickets,” he added.

Beeler said he is looking forward to cooking a bunch of wings and having a fun day, and added “we actually have quite a few” organizations benefiting from the event this year. Locally, they include: Empty Stocking Fund, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and University of Tennessee Culinary Institute.

Other organizations benefiting are Three E, Empowering Educators Everyday and Fourth Purpose Foundation; the silent auction will benefit Survivor Fitness.

There are two avenues of purchasing tickets: VIP and general admission.

VIP, which includes unlimited wings and beverages plus access to the VIP area, cost $200 per person with a limit of 100 tickets available.

General admission tickets are $20 per person in advance through Sept. 4, but increase to $30 the day of the event.

“That ticket gets you into the event, gets you 10 wings and access to the live music and “all the fun that’s around it,” Beeler said.

Children under 8 will be admitted free.

Tickets are available at While VIP tickets currently are on sale, general admission tickets will go on sale beginning Thursday, Aug. 5.

As a super regional qualifier gateway program, the event will qualify five local Knoxville cooks to compete in WFC’s 9th Annual Main Event, which will take place Nov. 5 through Nov. 7, in Dallas, where more than $300,000 in prize money is up for grabs, according to a press release.

“The Big Kahuna Festival is personally one of my favorite events to attend annually, and we’re happy to be able to welcome them back as a regional qualifier for cooks and chefs who want to compete on a global stage,” Mike McCloud, WFC president/CEO, stated in the press release.