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Big birds and small peeps enjoy flavors, fun of Chicken Festival
Walker Payne, 2, of Gainesville enjoys the sights during Saturday’s Chicken City parade during the Spring Chicken Festival in Gainesville. - photo by HAILEY VAN PARYS

If you love chicken, Gainesville is the place to be, particularly for Saturday’s annual Spring Chicken Festival.

This year marked Main Street Gainesville and Keep Hall Beautiful’s 13th year of the event, which is more than just a way to celebrate the poultry industry. It includes a chicken cook-off, the “Re-Hatched” recycled items market, a “Chicken City” parade and a “Chickiden” 5K.

The Bailey family took their love a chicken a step further. Friday night, mom of three Stephanie Bailey took to Target and craft stores to pull together a cheap way to dress her family up in their best chicken styles. The “funky chicken family” had on yellow and white feathers, googly eyes, beaks and wings made out of yellow felt.

Her three boys, J.R., Huyi Yang and YaDu, were the chicks. Huyi Yang and YaDu were in a wagon, with “chicken coop” written on the side, hauled around by dad Jason Bailey.

It took Stephanie about four hours to put together the costumes.

“We’re enjoying ourselves,” Stephanie said.

People who attended the festival were allowed to sample 10 types of chicken from the two dozen food trucks and stations for $5.

Bonny Putney enjoyed her first chicken festival.

“It’s awesome,” said Putney, who is on the board for Keep Hall Beautiful.

The Buford woman was volunteering at the event, but made sure to get her samples in before getting to work.

“I’ve heard so many versions of ‘The Chicken Dance’ today,” Putney said.

Putney’s favorite chicken came from the Ninja Pig booth, and Penni Ganyard agreed.

“We’ve made the rounds,” said Penni Ganyard, who lives in Gainesville with her husband Kenny Ganyard.

The Ganyards were among hundreds who came out to try all the chicken offered, marking off their cluck cards as they went.

Once they had finished sampling, the card is used as a ballot to determine the best chicken in the competition.

The cook-off portion of the event was split into two divisions, professional and backyard. The “Grand Champion” receives a cash prize and wins a Chicken City Cup for a year.