Pro anglers show off their wing-eating skills

Pro angler Kevin VanDam, right, cheers on his nephew and fellow pro angler Jonathan VanDam, center, Wednesday during the Major League Fishing Buffalo Wild Wings wing eating challenge. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Anglers in town for the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour Stage 5 took some time off from the water to show off a different skill Wednesday. Close to a dozen pros were at Buffalo Wild Wings in Cullman to meet with fans and face off with some of those fans in a fun wing eating challenge. Each pro faced off with a challenger to see how many wings they could eat in two minutes.

Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs and Cullman Parks, Recreation, Sports Tourism Executive Director Nathan Anderson were just a couple of the fans who came out to see their favorite pro anglers. Both are excited to have a sporting event of this caliber in Cullman County.

The anglers talked to and posed with fans and signed autographs while mentally preparing for their turn in the wing challenge.

As one challenge got underway, pro Kevin VanDam watched a competitor rip though his wings and laughed, “I’m glad I’m not going against him!”

VanDam’s nephew and fellow competitor, Jonathan VanDam, was defeated, but it was all in good fun.

Jonathan VanDam said of his only eating six wings, “It’s harder than you think.”

When asked about life as a pro angler, he said, “It’s pretty good that’s for sure, but there’s a lot that people don’t see like long hours on the road and time away from home, but it’s good. It’s worth it.”

Both VanDams will be back out on the lake Thursday in hopes of advancing.

Cliff “The Cajun Baby” Crochet, who says he’s from “the great state of South Louisiana” fished Tuesday and will fish again on Thursday; he explained, “The top 20 will fish again on Saturday.”

All the anglers at Buffalo Wild Wings said they are enjoying their stay, and all enjoyed fishing at Smith Lake and had visited prior to this event.

Pro Shaw Grigsby said he’s fished Smith Lake four or five times prior to this tour event.

He said about his time in Cullman, “We did that Strawberry Festival on Saturday which was fun. We had to fish the next morning so we had to get up about 4:30 to get out there early, so I didn’t get to stay for the concert. This is a lot of fun for us and this is a great organization. The Bass Pro Tour is exceptional.”

This event is the first of the second half of the season; the tour will head to Branson, Missouri next.

Branson added, “I do a lot of saltwater fishing being from Florida. I just love fishing. I like being outdoors. I’m just not an inside kind of guy.”

Leslie Nabors, marketing manager for Buffalo Wild Wings said, “I heard about Buffalo Wild Wings in Kissimmee doing an event like this so I called them to see how we could do it when the tour came here. This has been a lot of fun and great for the community.”

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Christy Perry