With Papa watching their children, Kenny and Erin Warren were free to walk around and sample all the chicken wings they wanted.

They were not by themselves as hundreds of people flocked to the corner of Chestnut and Center streets Saturday afternoon for the second annual Wings of Wayne Military Appreciation Festival sponsored by the Goldsboro Elks Lodge.

The festival was designed to bring Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and the community together in a downtown setting while also serving as a fundraising event which helps in the Elks' ongoing support of local charitable causes.

Admission was free, and the event included a chicken wing cook-off, live music, children's activities, craft vendors and more.

It also included awards for the cook-off and the Elks' military appreciation awards.

The festival continues today at 11:30 a.m. with a Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally to the Veterans Home in Kinston.

Warren was stationed at Seymour Johnson AFB from 2012-14, and his wife teaches at Charles B. Aycock High School.

After Warren got a job in Raleigh they decided to remain in Goldsboro.

"I love wings," he said. "I love chicken wings. My favorite food is a chicken wing. We came last year and had a good time so we had to come out here again this year and eat chicken wings.

"This is a military town so it is cool to see the support the military getting and it is cool to see events like this in downtown Goldsboro showing that they appreciate the base being here."

Erin Warren said she thinks the event achieves the goal of tying the base and community together.

She said she has a good recipe for wings, but does not like them as much as her husband and seldom makes them because they are so messy.

"He makes his own sauce and makes it hot,"she said.

The spicer, the better, he said.

A highlight of the day was the presentation of military appreciation awards to Senior Airman Chayla Lambright, Airman of the Year; Stephanie L.Martin, Key Spouse of the Year; and Staff Sgt. Christopher A. Parker, Volunteer of the Year.

Parker, who is originally from Wilson, is currently on deployment.

The lodge established the award criteria and then worked closely with the base to vet the candidates and make the selections.

Elks Lodge member Doug McGarth, who has worked a lot with veterans and active duty military, came up with the idea for the event.

"This allows us hopefully to raise money so that can continue to do things in the community which we are always doing."

The lodge supports veterans causes, 4-H, Boys and Girls Club, Salvation Army, Red Cross, academic scholarships and drug awareness programs.