Sep. 22—After being postponed last year, the 2021 World Chicken Festival is setting up and preparing for large crowds this year.
Saturday will feature the largest parade in the area at 10 a.m. with this year's theme being Hometown Heroes as the World Chicken Festival parade features pageant title holders from the area, fire trucks, law enforcement, EMS, vintage vehicles and a wide range of participants.
Town Center stage will serve as the Stage of Stars, with Wolfpen Branch, Chad's Hope, Buffalo Wabs & The Price Hill Hustle and Hogslop String Band on Thursday with the first act performing at 6 p.m. Friday's entertainment brings familiar performers to the big stage — Rye Davis, Bee Taylor and country performers Sawyer Brown closing out the show. Saturday offers Nick Jamerson, one half of the duo Sundy Best, followed by Mountain Heart and up-and-coming stars, Larkin Poe.
The Sanders Stage on Broad Street also offers talent-ridden entertainment. Peggy Inks opens that stage at 5 p.m. Thursday, followed by contests and a karaoke contest. The London Studio Singers open the entertainment on Friday at 2 p.m. with Cody Lee Meece performing at 4 p.m. Sydney Adams returns to the WCF again this year at 6 p.m., with Tyler Smith & The Stillrunners closing out the entertainment with their show at 8 p.m. Saturday's entertainment brings a popular band back to the London area — Eight Daze Sober will perform at noon, with Three Years Apart taking the stage at 2:30 p.m. Rachel Crowe & The Beards bring their soulful sound to the stage at 4:30 p.m., followed by JB Strauss, Mountain Heart and Good Rockin' Tonight winding down Saturday's entertainment.
The Sunday gospel singing will be held at Town Center Park on Sunday, with a community church service at 10 a.m. At 1 p.m., Phoebe White will perform, followed by The Nelons, the Kingsman and Fair Haven Quartet.
A special Meet and Greet with TV celebrity — and native Laurel Countian — Jason Smith will take place on Friday at 1 p.m. across from the Chicken Coop on Main Street near Butcher's Pub, while the Chamber of Commerce booth will be selling World Chicken Festival T-shirts and hats throughout the four-day festival.
The contests always offer a fun experience and this year will debut two new ones — the Rooster Tail Mullet contest and the Chicken Joke Telling Contest. The online voting for People's Choice for the Mullet contest has already closed, according to co-executive Kelly Burton, but the contest will bring out the contestants for judging at the Broad Street stage (Sanders Stage) at 3 p.m. Friday. The Chicken Joke Telling Contest is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday.
Of course, some all-time favorites will return this year. The Colonel Sanders Look-Alike contest is the first of this year's contests, taking the Sanders Stage at 6 p.m. on Thursday. Then the karaoke contest kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Friday's lineup hosts the Mother-Daughter Look-Alike contest at Sanders Stage at 10 a.m., followed by the Culinary Chicken Cook-Off Challenge from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday opens to the Chicken Joke Telling Contest at Sanders Stage at 11 a.m. But hang around for a bit longer to watch the Cluckin' Struttin' and Crowin' contest at 11:30 and the Chicken Hot Wing Eating Contest at 1 p.m. While Friday usually brings out children of all ages to downtown for the Egg Drop Contest, that competition will not take place this year.
A huge draw each year is the Chick-A-Lympics, which pits children ages 4 to 7 in several competitions such as the Egg Toss and Spoon Race before diving into a mat covered with flour to find dollar bills underneath. That event winds down with a drawing in which a boy and girl both receive a new bicycle. That event will be held in the field by the London Laurel Rescue Squad off Dixie Street.
The World's Largest Skillet will return again this year, sizzling hot to prepare chicken lunches, opening at its new location off Broad Street. The serving tent will be located across from Sauced on Broad Street. The World's Largest Skillet opens at 5 p.m. on Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It will be closed on Sunday.
The festival is also packed with entertainment, from Kiddie World to the usual carnival rides along Broad Street, while the vendor booths for food, crafts and collectibles will be located along Main Street.
Other attractions are the carnival rides, the trolley that runs from Carnaby Square to the North Kroger parking lot, Granpa Cratchet/Magic Mike, and the Chicken Invasion. This year's wood cut-out chicken decorating contest will feature 50 entries, with voting ongoing throughout Sunday. Votes are $1 each, with the proceeds being split between sponsor, London-Laurel Tourist Commission and the Laurel County Backpack program. The top vote getters will then be awarded cash prizes.
This is the 32nd World Chicken Festival, that was originated in 1990 and has grown to be voted one of Kentucky's top festivals.