Nearly every Georgia community gets their time to shine in the state’s Capitol.
Hall County prefers to cluck.
About 300 “chickens” from Hall County made their way to the desks of state legislators and officials Thursday, courtesy of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce and Leadership Hall County.
The “chickens” — actually chicken-shaped cardboard boxes — are a community-centric token of appreciation for state officials, said Kit Dunlap, president of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.
Similar gestures are made by communities across the state, from the falls of Toccoa to the depths of the Okefenokee swamp, that remind lawmakers of the diverse communities they represent.
“It brings some recognition to our community,” Dunlap said. “How do you ... get a little recognition, other than your own (county legislators) and those around you? And this is the way we’ve found out. They all know who it is when you bring those little chicken boxes in.”
State Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, along with all other Hall County representatives, took to the well Thursday to recognize Leadership Hall County and call attention to the “chickens” that had been placed on legislators’ desks.
Collins keeps an alligator figurine on his desk given to legislators from communities around the Okefenokee Swamp. He and Rep. Carl Rogers, R-Gainesville, also received a jar of gumballs from Milledgeville and have state-shaped sticky notepads on their desks from Toccoa.
But the “chicken” is a source of pride for Collins, and it shows lawmakers from other regions to see other aspects of Hall County’s industrial makeup, he said.
“It lets us be very proud of the community we represent, but it’s been tied the last few years with our (Leadership Hall group), and that ... lets the General Assembly see our best and brightest as well,” Collins said.
And after some 15 years of sending them to the Statehouse, chicken boxes have become “somewhat of a fine science,” Dunlap said.
The “chickens” are specially made by Wilheit Packaging, and their innards are an assortment of tokens from various local industries — gum from the Wrigley plant in Flowery Branch, coffee from the Gainesville roaster St. Ives, a first-aid kit from Northeast Georgia Health Systems, a mouse pad printed with a Kubota tractor, and, of course, a chicken key chain and cookbook.
And once local chamber members dress them up good, Gainesville-based Adams Transfer and Storage delivers the “chickens” to the Capitol post office, which distributed the boxes to the various legislators Thursday.
Rogers, who has been in the House for 16 years, said other communities hold lunch and dinner receptions near the Capitol for legislators. In the past, Rogers said he’s received hats with his name on it, pens and portfolios — tokens he feels are “thank you’s” for the work legislators do during their 40 days at the Capitol.
And while Rogers said he’d prefer the gifts to be monetary donations to the state Treasury, he said the community gifts put areas of the state on the map that he may have never known about.
“Some cities and counties do more and some do less,” Rogers said. “I expected to see less of it this year with the downturn we’re in, but people seem to be having receptions, and they’re nice to go to.”
State Rep. James Mills, R-Chestnut Mountain, did not return a call seeking comment for this story.