SIOUX CITY | Chicken feather and egg shell projects created for a Wayne, Nebraska, art show in 1981, spawned a free three-day festival that has been going strong for 36 years and drawing attendees from across the United States, and even the world.
Now that's something to cluck about.
"The group wanted to expand it a bit and do something that might generate some overnight stays. They love a parade, so they added a parade, and came up with the National Cluck Off," recalled Irene Fletcher, Wayne Area Economic Development assistant director. "Every year it seems to grow."
Fletcher said organizers are already planning for the 2018 Wayne Chicken Show, which will take place the weekend of the second Saturday in July.
Festivities kick off with "Henoween," a Friday night celebration that features live entertainment, games and fireworks. Decorated concrete chickens are also auctioned off during "Henoween" to cover the cost of the Chicken Show. Fletcher said other popular events include the Saturday parade, which is held on Main Street and garners more than 100 entries, and the National Cluck Off, a clucking contest open to both children and adults. Past winners, Fletcher said have walked away with $400 in prize money and appeared on "The Tonight Show."
"There are some actual rules," Fletcher said of the Cluck Off. "They must be heard across the barnyard, must sound and act like a chicken, and there's also a time limit."
The Akron Friendship and Service Club started the Great Akron Scarecrow Festival in 2000 as a way to bring the community together and raise funds for the betterment of the Akron and Westfield communities.
The highlight of the family friendly festival, which takes place the third Saturday of September in Akron City Park, is a scarecrow-decorating contest. After the judging and awarding of prizes, the scarecrows are auctioned off.
LeAnne Philips, a member of the Akron Friendship and Service Club said the contest is a fun way for participants, who draw ideas from movie or pop-culture themes, to show off their creativity.
"One year, somebody used an electrical breaker box as the body and then used lots of different electrical supplies and wires to create the scarecrow," she said.
Philips said the festival has really become a fall destination event for people living in the region. She said more than 50 vendors travel from places like Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Omaha, Nebraska, to sell crafts and products at the festival.
"There's no admission cost to come in," said Philips, who said tickets are required for food, as well as some of the games and activities. "It's a great way for the entire family to come and spend the day in the park."
Over the years, Philips said proceeds from the festival have funded improvements to Akron's municipal swimming pool, sponsored children's theater performances, purchased medical equipment for Akron Emergency Medical Services and helped supported many other projects and organizations.
"It's just turned into a great way for our community to come together and celebrate fall, as well as bring visitors from across the region to Akron each year," she said.