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Gainesville Square turns into fowl territory for the Spring Chicken Festival
Annual event set for April 29 in downtown square in Gainesville
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Eleanor Lurie grabs samples of chicken at the Walgreens booth from Mia Gomez and Derriqk Roberts during last year’s Spring Chicken Festival in downtown Gainesville. This year’s festival will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 29.

Spring Chicken Festival

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 29

Where: Downtown Gainesville

Cost: $5 cluck card for 10 chicken samples

More info: www.gainesville.org/spring-chicken-festival

The 2017 Spring Chicken Festival is clucking its way back to Gainesville to celebrate the poultry industry with family fun.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 29, the festival will return to the poultry capital of the world for its 13th year on the downtown square in Gainesville.

The event will be filled with various activities, including Georgia’s only official chicken cook-off, which Regina Mansfield Dyer said is one of the most popular events.

“We have a Georgia’s only official cook-off where we have anywhere from 10 to 20 cook teams competing each year,” the Main Street Gainesville manager said. “They compete for the coveted Chicken City Cup, which is a really cool trophy they get to take with them. Plus, we have cash prizes. It’s a lot of bragging rights that go with it, too.”

Along with the cook-off comes judging with all of its components.

“We try to use certified judges and if they’re not, then they get trained,” Dyer said. “They are in a secluded area and have no idea who the entries come from. The judging system alone is a process. That’s one of the things that makes our festival stand out. And the judges take their job very seriously.”

With so much chicken being cooked — about 7,000 pounds of donated chicken — festival attendees obviously want some for themselves, and they can get it with a cluck card.

“We have these things called cluck cards, and for five bucks you can get 10 samples,” Dyer said. “We also have a family nest special, meaning if you get four cluck cards, you’ll get a fifth cluck card free. You could basically come out and feed your family and have an entire fun day for $20 or $25.”

All of the funds raised will benefit Main Street Gainesville and Keep Hall Beautiful for beautification projects.

Dyer said it is important to arrive early if you want to eat.

“The chicken actually starts getting served at 11 a.m.,” she said. “We always tell people to get there early. We will run out of chicken.”

In addition, a parade will launch the day’s activities that includes live music, a kids zone and an art market called “Re-Hatched.”

“This is a great artist market,” Dyer said. “All the artists use upcycled, recycled or green items to make their creations.”

While some are returning events, Dyer mentioned some new things are arriving this year, including “Pollo Wars,” or chicken wars with a game called “Fowl Play.”

“It’s basically a fun rivalry game that will take place on Saturday,” Dyer said. “Different organizations and groups will challenge each other. They get in these chicken-like suits. It’s almost like a game of basketball but they have these eggs.”

Another new event is “Year of the Rooster,” and it involves students of Gainesville High School.

“We will have on display these wooden roosters that students from the Gainesville High School have painted,” Dyer said. “They’ll be posted on our Facebook page and people will vote for them and then they’ll be on display at the chicken festival and the winner will be announced.”

For more information, visit www.gainesville.org/spring-chicken-festival.