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May 25, 2024

San Juan to revive Chicken Festival?

Love them or hate them, feral chickens are attached to San Juan Bautista.

Some residents want to celebrate the wild birds by bringing back a local Chicken Festival in September.

San Juan Bautista held a chicken festival for several years starting just over a decade ago, and some of those involved with the prior event want to revive the concept for a new Chicken Festival on Sept. 16. It would happen on the main street of the Mission City, like other festivals in town, but this one would honor the crowing fowl that some locals have come to despise.

Rachel Ponce is one of San Juan Bautista resident who’s against the Chicken Festival. At this month’s San Juan council meeting, she said it shows “very bad taste” while contending the chickens have damaged local properties.

“I find this plan to be insensitive to residents that have had to endure all the damage, destruction and hardship from the chickens,” Ponce said.

Others weren’t so offended by the festival concept.

“We can make fun of the chickens, even though some of us love them and some of us hate them,” said Jolene Cosio, a former San Juan councilmember, during the public speaking portion of the discussion.

The idea is that the city would partner with Margot’s Ice Cream shop as co-chair of the event, City Manager Michaele LaForge said at the meeting, noting how the city would clean up and help to set up booths.

“We anticipate we’ll end up selling shirts and hats that say, ‘chicken up, chicken down San Juan Bautista’,” LaForge said.

Naomi Medina from Margot’s Ice Cream shop spoke and mentioned it would include a barbecue contest, a raffle and hopefully a chicken queen contest. There wouldn’t be a parade this time like last time around. Medina said organizers also want the community to have a Third Street yard sale on the same day.

“We’ve got to do something to bring people to San Juan,” she said. “Merchants are willing to stick their necks out, and we’re asking you to stick yours out, too.”

Medina said with the city’s support, the San Juan Committee (which represents local business interests) would take part as well.

It was a discussion item on the agenda only, so the city officials will continue consideration of the Chicken Festival.

-Kollin Kosmicki