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Gainesville's Spring Chicken Festival marks its November return with a new name and venue
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David Stringer of the Gainesville Fire Department serves their "controlled burn" wings to Kurt Fekdhaus during the 2018 Spring Chicken Festival sponsored by Keep Hall Beautiful. - photo by Scott Rogers

After a year and a half hiatus owing to COVID-19, Gainesville’s Spring Chicken Festival returns this November under a new moniker — and at a new venue.

Renamed the Gainesville Chicken Festival, the Nov. 6 event will bring the same level of flavor and fun to a larger, lakeside coop at Lake Lanier Olympic Park.

While most recently held at Longwood Park — and, prior to that, the downtown Gainesville square — the growth of the festival required it to “spread its wings,” according to City of Gainesville public relations manager Christina Santee, and migrate to a location better suited to the burgeoning crowd of chicken aficionados. 

The city’s poultry industry partners were another factor driving the date change. According to Santee, hosting the event again in April 2022 would mean those partners would again be asked to donate chicken for the cookoff just six months later. 

The new date and venue are permanent changes, Santee said, in hopes that an autumnal setting will lend to more favorable weather conditions for the cook teams, who spend the majority of the event laboring over hot grills and smokers, as well as vendors and attendees.

“This particular event is wildly popular for those in Gainesville-Hall County, we feel, because there’s nothing else like it in greater North Georgia,” Santee said. “Gainesville has definitely positioned itself as ‘Poultry Capital of the World’ and holds that title proudly. The Gainesville Chicken Festival is our opportunity to celebrate that, which — of course — includes those in the Gainesville-Hall County community. Organizers are extremely hopeful moving this popular community event to a more comfortable time of year — a time of year when people are seeking out festivals — will only make the Gainesville Chicken Festival that much more attractive.”

Those attending the event will still be able to taste samples of chicken cooked by participating vendors. With the purchase of a $6 wristband, which can be secured online or at the gate on the day of the event, individuals can sample 10 different items, dually treating their taste buds and determining their favorite Pitmaster for the People’s Choice awards.

The event’s proceeds will go to the North Georgia Community Foundation’s scholarship fund for local students.

In addition to front-row views of Lake Sidney Lanier, the new venue is equipped with ample parking as well as courtesy docks for those arriving by boat and grandstands for enjoying entertainment and grub. 

With live entertainment provided by Dave Anderson, folks can also expect to see staples like Downtown Drafts, Tap It Growlers, Frozen Frenzee and Cherry-O The Clown.

For more information and updates, follow @GainesvilleChickenFestival on Facebook or visit www.gainesville.org

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