SILER CITY — The mouth-watering smell of fried foods, the laughter of children on a Ferris wheel, the sound of guitars and harmonized vocals, accompanied with the sight of colorful vendors’ tents with a wide array of goods will soon fill downtown Siler City.
The town’s 5th annual Spring Chicken Festival — known for its “eggs-cellent” atmosphere, as well as its ability to bring thousands of people downtown — is set for Saturday, May 6.
Siler City Parks & Recreation Director Jack Clelland hopes this year’s festival will be bigger and better than ever after the 2020 and 2021 events were canceled by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We anticipate somewhere around 5,000 people, if not more, to attend,” he said. “This is definitely our biggest event, and it’s important to us because we get to show off Siler City … We get to find people that are from all over to come check out our downtown, check out our merchants to see what Siler City has to offer.”
The planning process for the Spring Chicken Festival begins 11 months before the first Saturday in May, according to Clelland.
“We started planning early June … getting our big ticket items and making sure we’ve got stages secure,” he said. “We start searching our bands, amusement rides, things of that nature.”
The first Spring Chicken Festival after pandemic restrictions were lifted occurred last year, but activities were cut short halfway through the day because of inclement weather. Clelland said he hopes this year, the weather will hold out to have the true return of the poultry-themed extravaganza.
The all-day festival will start at 10 a.m. and go until 6 p.m., with musical guests The Embers featuring Craig Woolard and Gipsy Danger. The Embers is a well-known beach music group and have been named “North Carolina’s Official Ambassadors of Music.”
Clelland said one of the most-anticipated events for 2023 is the Chicken Pickin’ contest sponsored by Mountaire Farms.
“Contestants are given a whole, cooked bird that’s been cooled down, and the goal is to remove as much meat from it as possible,” he said. “Whoever removes the most meat in a certain amount of time is declared the winner of that.”
Mountaire will have monetary prizes for contest winners, and elected officials will participate in their own poultry pickin’ competition for both money and bragging rights.
“They have done local official rounds where local government officials or local commissioners can compete against one another and will actually donate to an organization of their choosing,” Clelland said. “This is a big, new thing for us this year.”
The event also will feature many Chatham- and Siler City-based businesses at various booths and tents scattered around downtown. Festivalgoers can take an opportunity to shop around and see what unique businesses Siler City has.
“We get vendors from all across the state, but we really focused on trying to get our downtown merchants involved,” Clelland said. “We have great participation from them. We’re really trying to highlight downtown, especially with the expansion and revitalization is getting underway out there.”
There will be something for everyone at the Spring Chicken Festival, from carnival rides to live music and vendors. Clelland said patrons will be sure to find something to enjoy.
“If you want to go shopping, that option is there,” he said. “ f you want to bring the kids out and walk around, you can do that as well. We tried to make it as inclusive as we could to give everybody that option to do what it is they’ve been wanting to do.”
Mountaire Farms, the primary sponsor of the Spring Chicken Festival, was one of the driving forces in the festival’s return. It’s now one of Siler City’s most-attended events and also brings thousands of people to the downtown district. The festivities showcase more than just good food and fun, it also presents nonresidents and residents alike the opportunity to see Siler City and what makes it the community it is.
“I hope people come out and have a good time,” Clelland said. “I hope they see how invested the town is to providing some type of opportunity for them to come out and visit downtown. We just want to enjoy have a good time as a family.”
Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.