On Tuesday, April 4th, different organizations gathered at Agri Park near the University of Arkansas’ farm to “wing it” in the inaugural AGR Chicken Wing Cook-Off. The philanthropy event, held by Alpha Iota Chapter of Alpha Gamma Rho at the University of Arkansas, was successful — raising over $2,000 for the Farmer Veteran Coalition. Farmer Veteran Coalition is Alpha Iota Chapter’s main philanthropy, which helps veterans start a better life and/or career involved in agriculture.
At the start of the year, Brothers knew they wanted a unique philanthropy event for their spring semester. Brother Colton Henderson took on the challenge and set to work coming up with a brand new event that other organizations on the U of A campus could be involved in.
“I knew I wanted to create an event that would help set us apart from other fraternities in IFC. I wanted to create a new event that no one had ever done on campus,” Henderson said.
Plenty of ideas were discussed amongst the chapter, until the idea of a cook-off came about. Brothers included alumni in the brainstorming, which sparked the idea
“We originally had the idea of a chili cook-off, but a local alumni, Todd Martin, informed us that Fayetteville already does a chili cook-off every year around the same time we were going to have ours,” said Ryan Heidrick, current Noble Ruler for the chapter. “He then gave us the idea to make it a wing cook-off.”
Brother Henderson decided to run with the idea and soon all the pieces fell in place. The chapter contacted Tyson Foods, Inc., whose headquarters is in Springdale, Arkansas, and they agreed to donate a portion of the wings that were used in the Cook-Off. On the day of event, Brothers were faced with a challenge as it seemed the weather didn’t want to cooperate with their outside event.
“We were checking the weather all day to make sure the rain was not going to interfere with the event,” Brother Henderson said, “Thankfully for us, it decided to start raining as soon as the event had ended and after everyone had left.”
Many teams from other IFC fraternities at the University of Arkansas participated in the cook-off. Over 150 people turned up to the event, even with the forecast calling for rain.
“I feel that the chapter found a new niche for its philanthropy and has a good foundation to really build on it for the near future,” said Alpha Iota alumnus Alan Sites, who also served as a judge for the event. “I was also really impressed by the turnout for a first year event and I was also impressed by some of the wings.”
A raffle for a Yeti Cooler and Remington 870 shotgun helped raise awareness and funds for the Farmer Veteran Coalition during the cook-off. The event and the raffle were shared all over different social media sites, which the Alpha Iota Chapter believes contributed to the successful turnout for the event.
Chapter Adviser Larry Ropp was happy with the turnout and is excited about the future of the philanthropy cook-off.
“I’m proud of these men for achieving what they did,” said Ropp. “They did a great job planning this event and I know Colton will help whoever takes his position next year improve the event to make it more successful than it was this year.”
Alpha Iota Chapter plans on holding the Chicken Wing Cook-Off every year from now on. They plan to make it more successful ever year by getting more attendees and teams to participate.