Patrons and organizers of the 21st World Chicken Festival say this year’s event can go down as another successful one.
Ken Harvey, executive director of the London-Laurel County Tourist Commission, which coordinates the event, said officials estimate more than 200,000 people participated in the many events offered this year.
“I’m very pleased,” Harvey said. “After last year’s weather, I was very happy. Overall, it went about as smooth as you could ask for.”
Harvey credited the many volunteers and organizations who helped with this year’s event.
“We had so many people who volunteered this year,” he said. “The security and police were great. And the National Guard — you can’t say enough about those guys. We had the ROTC from North Laurel High School helping with the cleanup and it was cleaned up well after closing every night.”
Harvey also praised the performers, all of whom he said were “wonderful to work with.”
“We’ve already got a couple of them booked for next year,” he said.
The recession did have an impact on the festival, Harvey said, in terms of attracting vendors.
“Normally we’re turning people away, but we didn’t have as many this year,” he said.
But sales were up for many vendors, including the World’s Largest Skillet tent, where chicken dinners were served throughout the festival.
Peggy Scott, executive secretary with the tourist commission, said Saturday chicken dinner sales “broke a record.”
“We sold more chicken dinners on Saturday than we ever have,” Scott said.
Tammy Woodyard was one vendor who was pleased with her sales during the week. Woodyard and her husband operated the booth for Tammy’s Wreaths, Trees and Swags, which offered all occasion and holiday-themed wreaths, wooden yard decor and nylon yard decorations.
In fact, the couple did so well they had to make a trip to Lexington to purchase more supplies.
“We had to go Saturday to get more stuff or we wouldn’t have had anything to sell on Sunday,” Woodyard said. “I was empty and we were really busy.”
As a second-year vendor, Woodyard said the expansion of her booth to three spots this year was a plus.
Woodyard said she believes good weather is key. She plans to return next year.
Information booths were also busy. Laurel Circuit Clerk Roger Schott and his staff manned the “Trust for Life” booth, which featured organ donors and organ recipients who shared their stories with visitors.
“I thought the Chicken Festival was very good this year,” Schott said. “I was very pleased with the weather and thankful for the people who met with my staff. We signed up more than 50 people to be organ and tissue donors.”
Schott said more than 940,000 people are registered as organ and tissue donors in Kentucky.
“Our goal is to reach one million by the end of the year,” he said. “The interest is spreading and I think the organ donors who came and shared their stories helped. I’m very pleased.”
Staff writer Nita Johnson can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.