It's Memorial Day Weekend - the Sunday before Memorial Day to be exact.
Normally, as tradition has gone, I would be rocking out right now, in the sun to a popular rock band.
But not this year. Instead, I am sitting here at home, on our computer, killing time until my hubby gets home from work and his friends drives over from Palatine so we can go see Iron Man 2 tonight.
Last year was the last Wing Ding festival, after 16 years.
Sponsored by the local rock station, it started as chicken wing competition in 1993 and was held annually downtown just off the river on the Sunday before Memorial Day. Eventually they started adding a few local and some up-and-coming bands to the free event, the first one of notable mention being Nickelback and 3 Doors Down co-headlining in 2000, before either band was huge.
The event turned into a full-blown day long festival over the years, with each year having bigger named and more bands than the previous year. Because of this, they started charging a $1 for it in 2005, and then in 2006, when it outgrew the original location off the river they moved it over to the local speedway and first charged $5 one year, then $10 for the next 2 years.
For 2009 though, the festival got kicked out of the speedway, due to complaints from a handful of people who lived nearby who were angry over the noise and traffic this one day a year (these people also now are complaining about the noise from the speedway itself, which was built and in operation years prior to when their neighborhood was built - no one forced them to move next to the speedway!), so they moved the festival out near the local airport, charged $15 a ticket ($20 at the gate) and announced this would be the last year as it was just getting too expensive to keep putting on at the caliber they had been doing it.
At first people were outraged that they started charging, but when you think about it... the price they were charge for the bands they were bringing it, it wasn't bad at all. When it was at the speedway, people would tailgate in the parking lot - we did one year and it was a lot of fun!
I've been going to Wing Ding since 2003 - the year that Powerman5000 headlined (with several 1-hit-wonder bands also on the bill) and were promoting their album "Transform." Since that first show I went to, I've gotten to see Cold, Breaking Benjamin (twice), Seether, Skindred, Saliva, Hinder, Blackstone Cherry (3 times), Tantric, Three Days Grace, Buckcherry, Finger Eleven, Red, The Last Vegas (twice), Chevelle, Theory of a Deadman, POD, Airbourne, and Saving Abel as well as several local or other 1-hit-wonder bands that were big at the time.
The last Wing Ding had an all-star lineup with up-and-comers Taddy Porter, Age of Daze, and the Parlor Mob, rising bands Halestorm and 10 Years, as well a performance by Coolio, and closing out the day with Powerman5000, Saving Abel, Saliva and Shinedown.
For me, it was significant that Powerman5000 (which is one of my favorite bands) played both the first Wing Ding I ever went to, as well as the last. I thought that was pretty awesome.
A lot of people, myself included, suggested they just raise the price to $20 a ticket, or even scale back on the line-up - sure it's been nice having multiple big name bands perform, but I'd be fine with just 1 or 2 "big" bands with a few local or up-and-coming ones as the openers like they had at the beginning of the decade. Something is better than nothing, right?
I'm honestly at a loss as to what to do this weekend, as for 7 years straight Wing Ding was my Memorial Day Weekend tradition - it just doesn't feel like Memorial Day Weekend without it.
As I mentioned, we're finally going to see Iron Man 2 tonight, and then we're probably cooking out over at my parent's house tomorrow night... but it just feels like a void with no Wing Ding.
How do you celebrate Memorial Day? Do you have any annual holiday traditions?