CORBIN (AP) — The 24th annual World Chicken Festival will offer entertainment, rides and finger-licking good food this weekend with the world’s largest chicken-frying skillet heating up on Thursday and going all weekend. Running from Thursday through Sunday in downtown London, the festival will kick off at 5 p.m.
The festival began in 1990 and, since then, it has continued to grow each year, drawing thousands of visitors to London. Since then, the festival has been voted as one of the Kentucky Tourism Council’s “Top 10” events and it has also been selected by the Southeast Tourism Society as one of the “Top 20” events in the southeastern United States, according to the London-Laurel County Tourism Commission newsletter.
For the first time, the festival will offer performances on a new stage under a big tent on 4th street dedicated to showcasing local talent on Thursday night, according to festival organizers. On Friday and Saturday, the stage will feature local gospel groups and local youth groups on Sunday afternoon. Isabella Hall will kick the festival entertainment off on Thursday evening at 5 p.m. Visual Artist and entertainer Les Scalf will emcee the 4th Street Stage programs.
Beginning at 5 p.m., Thursday, children’s rides on the corner of Broad and Seventh streets open. The adult rides will also start.
Thursday night, Peggy Inks will begin the entertainment on the Sanders Court Stage at 5 p.m. with many more acts to follow. The Stage of Stars will host Adam Towe at 6 p.m. The Stage of Stars is located on Broad Street in the parking lot next to Weaver’s Hot Dogs. The Sander’s Court Stage is located between London Elementary School and 9th Street.
Main Street will be lined with food, souvenirs, arts, crafts and exhibit booths. There will be plenty of activities for the kids, according to organizers.
The Kiddie World Stage will feature the Kid’s Day Circus, which gives children the opportunity to be a part of the show. Also featured on this stage is Magic Mike, a comedic magician. The Kids Day Circus will run Thursday through Sunday with two to three shows daily, as will Magic Mike.
The World’s Largest Stainless Steel Skillet is one of the main features of the festival and will begin frying chicken at noon on Thursday. The skillet is operated by World Chicken Festival volunteers and has served more than 120,000 fried chicken dinners since its inauguration in 1992. Requiring 300 gallons of cooking oil to fill it, the skillet can cook 600 quarters of chicken at one time. Chicken dinners and snacks will be on sale throughout the festival. It will be located at the Pavilion at Ninth and Main Streets.
There will also be lots of games and contests to participate in such as the 5K Run for the Roost, which will be on Saturday.
Awards, (non-cash prizes), will be given to the overall top three males and females, and to the top three finishers in each age group. Age divisions for male and female include 12 and under, 13-15, 16-18, 19-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, and 65 and older. There will also be a Family Fun Run, which is 1 mile and 5,000 meters. Cost for registration the day of the race is $15. Early registration is $12 and is payable to South Laurel Boys Basketball c/o Jeff Davis, 201 South Laurel Road, London, KY 40744. For more information about the race, contact Jeff Davis at (606) 862-4727 or Don Johnson at 682-3591 with questions.
Other popular contests of the festival include the hot wing eating contest, the karaoke contest, rooster clucking, crowing and strutting contests and many more.
“It’s going to be a whole lot of fun and activities for everyone,” Collier said. For more information, contact the London-Laurel County Tourism Commission at 606-878-6900 or visit www.chickenfestival.com for a complete list of events and schedules.