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Chickens descend on downtown
Spring Chicken Festival kicks off Saturday
A cook-off contestants pulls chicken from the grill for the annual spring event in downtown Gainesville.

Chicken wings, thighs and breasts will be served Saturday during a cook-off contest as part of the ninth annual Spring Chicken Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the square in downtown Gainesville, rain or shine.

The cookoff consists of two divisions: Professional and Backyard Barbecue. Prizes will be awarded in both categories. The Grand Champion will receive $700 and possess the Chicken City Cup for one year.

Visitors to the cook-off may purchase a “cluck card” for $5 to sample up to 10 of the 18 chicken entries. A “nest special” allows visitors to purchase five cluck cards for $20.

“It’s buy four, get one free,” Main Street Gainesville manager Regina Mansfield said. “And that’s a lot of chicken.”

For the first time, Main Street Gainesville joined forces with Keep Hall Beautiful to plan and organize this year’s event.

“We are very excited to have this organization to help and that is making the festival even better,” said Kelly Norman, executive director for Keep Hall Beautiful.

Main Street Gainesville’s participation is not the only new thing to the festival. This year, a “Re-Hatched Market” will kick off the festivities at 10 a.m. with an arts and crafts market consisting of art created by recycled or repurposed materials. Mansfield said about 20 artists are slated to showcase their wares in Roosevelt Square, which is between the old city hall building and old county courthouse.

“Some of artists we have melt glass to make glass windows,” she said. “We have people who make artwork from soda cans, make jewelry from fishing lures and make lights fixtures from old pipes.”

The repurposed or recycled artwork couples with the “recycling” theme of the third annual Chicken City Parade. Floats in the parade will feature recycled materials when possible. Vintage cars and marching bands also will travel the route encompassing the Gainesville Square. Parade-goers may watch the parade from Washington, Main and Spring streets.

Streets will be blocked off from 10:15 to 11:15 a.m. Saturday for the parade. Parade or festival attendants are encouraged to park in the parking deck.

Live music will entertain the crowd all day, and a kids zone will have games and activities.

To participate in the cookoff, parade or market, contact Regina Mansfield at 770-297-1141. Forms and more information are available at

Proceeds from the event benefit Keep Hall Beautiful.