"Miracle Mike," a Fruita-grown fowl, gained widespread fame in the 1940s when the chicken lost his head and continued to live (and grow) for 18 months. The Mike the Headless Chicken Festival - running tonight through Saturday - not only honors Mike, but it celebrates the community, family and recreation as well. Festivities kick off today at 4 p.m.
"The festival is really created to celebrate Fruita's history," the City of Fruita's parks and recreation director Ture Nycum said. "The headless chicken was chosen for his will to live. ... It's a celebration of life because it's a hardscrabble life in the western valley."
This event features a variety of competitions and eating contests, a car show, music, food and craft vendors. This year, biking events will also be held in conjunction with the festival.
According to the City of Fruita's special events supervisor Kelley Griffin, Saturday's "silly, quirky" events include the "Run Like a Headless Chicken" 5K at 9 a.m., a disc golf tournament at 11 a.m., a bicycle poker ride at 1 p.m., and a wing (and Peeps) eating contest at 2:30 p.m. The run, poker ride and wing-eating contests begin at the festival's downtown Fruita location, and the disc golf tournament starts at the Riverfront Park near Snooks Bottom Open Space. Free backyard games and the car show will be on Aspen Avenue.
"We usually see around 4,000 attendees," Griffin said. "It's growing every year. There's more and more vendors. This year we filled up on vendor spots early."
Nycum said festival planners always try to "mix things up" to keep the annual event "fun and fresh." The disc golf competition is new to this year's lineup.
Already in its 12th year, attendance growth is bringing increased tourism to the area, Griffin added.
"The 5K run has really grown," Griffin said, noting that almost 300 people ran last year. She expects it to be even bigger this year.
For more Mike the Headless Chicken Festival history, a full schedule and event registration forms, visit www.miketheheadlesschicken.org.