Bawk bawk! Mike the Headless Chicken Festival returns to Fruita |

Bawk bawk! Mike the Headless Chicken Festival returns to Fruita

Brittany Markert
Ellen Roberts, 92, a longtime Fruita resident and avid volunteer, is a three-time champion of the chicken dance contest held at the Mike the Headless Chicken Festival every spring.
Submitted photo |


WHAT: 16th annual Mike the Headless Chicken Festival

WHEN: Friday and Saturday, May 16-17

WHERE: Civic Center Park, Fruita

COST: Admission is free


Celebrating its 16th year, Mike the Headless Chicken Festival returns to Fruita Friday and Saturday, May 16-17. The theme is “Country-fied Mike.”

Kicking off Friday at 4 p.m., folks will enjoy the opening of Mike’s store (T-shirts and goodies), artisans, food vendors, music and backyard games. Live entertainment starts at 5 p.m., including Michael Aldridge and New Country Rehab at Civic Center Park.

On Saturday, May 17, Lions Club will host a pancake breakfast. Then Mike the Headless Chicken Festival’s walk/run 5K starts at 9 a.m. — registration costs $20. A disc golf tournament at Snooks Bottom is also planned; registration is set from 8:30-10:30 a.m. Other activities include a car show, a wing-eating contest, a peep-eating contest, and more. Entertainment begins at noon with Bicycle Annie, followed by Slopeslide at 4 p.m., and The Dead Cowboyz at 7:30 p.m.


Mike the chicken was originally planned for dinner in 1945, but a fortunate mishap kept him alive for 18 months.

According to the official Mike the Headless Chicken website, Mike’s life was spared by the ax missing most of the brain stem and one ear, allowing the chicken to go about his day as if he still had a head.

He was fed with an eyedropper by owners Clara and Lloyd Olsen of Fruita.

The chicken traveled the country with his owner — the price to view this tenacious bird was 25 cents. He was even insured for $10,000.


Fruita resident Ellen Roberts, 92, wears many hats. Her favorite one to wear is her chicken cap. When she was younger, she was able to meet Mike the chicken before he died.

For years, Roberts has always shook her tail feathers to the famous song, “The Chicken Dance,” at the annual festival. She’s even a three-time champion of the contest.

“I’ll never forget how to do it,” Roberts said, while going through the motions.

Due to health reasons, she isn’t able to dance in the contest any more, but she enjoys watching others compete.

“People aught to be doing it [dancing] all the time,” Robert said.

When Roberts isn’t helping out with the chicken festival, she volunteers at Fruita Recreational Center’s senior program, helping with Thursday night dinners, talent shows, hula shows, and movie nights.

“I try to stay busy,” she explained.

Roberts was also instrumental in helping with fundraising for the Fruita Recreational Center (when it was being built). She raised more than $89,000 collecting cans. She also crocheted skirts made out of cans, plus hats, and purses for the cause.

“She still to this day collects cans,” Fruita Chamber staffer Robbie Urquhart said. “I can’t say enough about her.”

Want a chicken hat like Roberts’? She will sell the festive caps for $15 at the Lioness Club booth at the Mike the Headless Chicken Festival this year. The booth also sells stuffed animals.

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