It’s back! Chicken Festival returns to its Siler City roost

BY CASEY MANN, News + Record Staff
Posted 1/17/19

After an absence of nearly two decades, Siler City’s Spring Chicken Festival will return to downtown May 4 with the help of Mountaire.

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It’s back! Chicken Festival returns to its Siler City roost

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SILER CITY – After an absence of nearly two decades, Siler City’s Spring Chicken Festival will return to downtown May 4 with the help of Mountaire.

Last year, the Siler City Board of Commissioners asked Siler City Parks and Recreation Director Joseph Keel to work to bring back the festival, which was a salute to the poultry industry and its importance in the county’s economy.

“[This event] represents the economic impact that the poultry industry will have on Siler City and the surrounding area,” Siler City Mayor John Grimes told the News + Record. “Not too many years ago the poultry industry was a very important economic engine that helped drive the economic well-being for the citizens of Siler City and many citizens in the surrounding areas.”

The first of what officials hope will become an annual Spring Chicken Festival will return to its roost downtown for a daylong event on the first Saturday in May.

The Chicken Festival will feature food trucks, a classic car show and inflatable attractions. There will be space for vendors varying from arts and crafts, gift items, informational booths, as well as a beer garden of great craft and domestic beverages. 

Keel said that Siler City’s historic downtown would be the best location to host this “marquee annual event” and plans for the event to stretch across the entire downtown area.
Keel hopes the spring Chicken Festival will create a positive economic and social impact, increase tourism in the historic district of Downtown Siler City, promote diverse Parks and Recreation programming all while enjoying delicious chicken.

“A large congratulations needs to be given to the Town’s Board of Commissioners and our city manager for working with Mountaire and welcoming Mountaire to our city,” Grimes said.

Mountaire, which has spent the better part of two years reconstructing a poultry processing facility in Siler City, is the sole sponsor of the event. Mountaire’s Employee & Community Relations Manager Mark Reif presented the town with a check for $15,000 last week to fund it.

“I don’t think the bank will take this check, Mark,” Keel joked as Reif carted in the oversized check for the ceremony.

“Mountaire Farms believes that our company should be a good corporate citizen through our support and involvement in activities that are beneficial to the communities in which we conduct our operations,” Reif said.

“I am very happy and pleased that Mountaire is taking an active role in the festival and also making a substantial financial commitment,” Grimes said. “A large congratulations needs to be given to the Town’s Board of Commissioners and our city manager for working with Mountaire and welcoming Mountaire to our city.” 

That funding, in conjunction with the work of staff at the Siler City Parks and Recreation department, is expected to cover the costs of the Spring Chicken Festival in its entirety, according to Keel.

Though the event is returning to Siler City, Keel is quick to note that this is a new take on the old festival.

“The Chicken Festival that Siler City and surrounding communities once knew, that began in the late 1980s, is being re-designed and brought back to downtown with new and exciting twists for everyone to enjoy,” he said.

 “The Siler City Parks and Recreation Department is thrilled to introduce a Ferris wheel and 28-foot rock wall to the attractions as well,” Keel said. 

There will be live music beginning with the act Sandband, which was featured at the 2018 Carolina Beach Music Awards in North Myrtle Beach. Following their performance, Siler City’s own Nu-Blu will take the stage to close out the event. 

To accommodate the event, its attractions, and vendors, many streets in downtown will be closed while the festival is underway. This includes Chatham Avenue from Third Street to Beaver Street. East and West Second Street will also be closed for the Ferris wheel, inflatable houses, and kids’ attractions.

A portion of Raleigh Street will also be closed to facilitate the car show and the music stage. The beer garden will be located at the Oasis Open Air Market.

The Parks and Recreation Department is seeking vendors for the first Annual Spring Chicken Festival. Interested vendors, which could include non-profits, church groups, civic groups, business, associations and clubs, should reach out to the Siler City Parks and Recreation Department at (919) 742-2699 or by emailing recreation@silercity.org. Beer Garden Vendors must contact Oasis Open Air Market at 919-395-2080 to complete their registration.

Vendor application deadline is March 29.  

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