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Shrine Club hosting chicken wing cook-off to fund operations

Shrine Club board member Greg Breed sits in his office Monday morning ahead of the organization's first annual Wing Ding next month.

The Casper Shrine Club is busy preparing for their first annual Wing Ding, a chicken wing cook-off and wing eating contest on Saturday, September 28 from 11 am – 2 pm.

The Shrine Club is a philanthropic organization predominately working to raise money for the 22 Shriners Children’s Hospitals around the country through yearly fundraising events. The hospitals operate solely on these donations, free of charge for the patients.

With club membership dwindling and the average member age rising, the fundraising has become more difficult, says Board Member Greg Breed. “A decade ago we had about 800 members [in Casper], now we’re down to about 130.” With fundraising down, maintaining their building behind Sunrise Shopping Center and paying their dues has also become a challenge.

The club used to rely on the funds from the annual Shrine Circus to cover the costs of operation, but attendance has fallen over the years with the rise of backlash against circuses around the country from animal advocates.

The Wing Ding will be one of the club’s first events to support their fees outside of the Shrine Circus. With the decreasing funds, it’s been “harder to keep the doors open in order for us to go do more fundraising for the hospitals,” Breed says.

“We’ve seen the success of events like the API Chili Cook-Off and Bubbles, Baubles and Beans… so we thought we could do a chicken wing contest.” Breed hopes to raise about $8,000 and anticipates the growth of the event in future years.

The club is anticipating 30 teams to prepare 250 wings each, competing for cash prizes and trophies. Tickets will be available for $10 to allow attendees to try each team’s wings.

For tickets and more information, call 259-5818.