A Delta tradition spanning 67 years makes its annual appearance this weekend, bringing with it an estimated 20,000 people to the village for food, drink, and, of course, poultry.
The Delta Chicken Festival will be held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in and around the community park on Taylor Street, near Delta High School. What began as a fundraiser in 1950 for the village’s Park and Recreation Board has grown to what is arguably Delta’s biggest event of the year.
Proceeds still benefit capital improvements for the park, but the Chicken Festival itself long ago put Delta figuratively on the map. Over three days, visitors can select from a dozen food vendors and about 40 product vendors, catch a thrill on carnival rides, see exotic animals, admire antique automobiles, listen to live music, participate in a variety of sports tournaments, and watch a fireworks display.
What draws the crowds, however, is grilled chicken, and lots of it. Over 5,200 pounds of chicken halves will be cooked up on site over the weekend by Bar-B-Que Traveler of Lacarne, Ohio, for the festival’s signature chicken dinners. It’s a job once tackled each year by about 80 members of the village fire department.
“They stopped doing that about 10 or 15 years ago because it would take an army,” said Kathy Miller, a lifelong Delta resident and Chicken Festival co-chair the past three years. In the festival’s early years, the firefighters butchered the chickens themselves, and over the decades boasted of using their own secret barbecue sauce.
The festival was inspired by a large chicken hatchery once located in the village, and has since raised funds to improve and maintain the community park in which it’s mainly held.
Friday’s highlights will end with a bang as Legendary Entertainment Productions of Commercial Point, Ohio, presents a fireworks display at dusk. The $5,000 show has been sponsored for several years by the Delta Eagles.
D&R Shows of Erie, Mich., will provide carnival rides, games, and inflatables, and Don Strobel of Clinton, Mich., will bring his Animal Oasis exhibit of exotic creatures that will feature either camel or elephant rides.
Other events will include various sports tournaments; a cornhole tournament; a beer tent; a Saturday evening 5K run sponsored by Dave’s Running Shop; a car show on Sunday at the corner of Taylor and Fernwood streets; and a Delta High School All-Class Reunion sponsored by the Class of 1992. Music acts will include the Sweet Time Band, 64 to Grayson, Unpaved, and Rodney Parker and Liberty Beach.
The occasion is being chaired by Miller – who estimates she has clocked in about 1,000 hours over three years in the position – and K.J. Abair. Miller’s husband, Fulton County Sheriff Roy Miller, is assisting.
Last year, the Delta Chicken Festival grossed just over $12,000 for the village’s Department of Parks and Recreation.
Mayor Dan Miller said it’s the committee members and the many volunteers who make the festival the success it has become.
“It’s one of those events that brings the community together,” he said. “And it means having a park that everyone can be proud of.”
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-330-1812.