VERSAILLES — Versailles will celebrate the 66th annual festival June 9-11 with a theme of a “Poultry Days Eggstravaganza” which recognizes the celebration and enjoyment everyone has visiting the festival. The board led by Chairmen Kevin Kissinger has been working for a year to deliver another quality festival.
Last year Versailles finally crushed the record of 26,101 dinners set in 2002 by selling 26,640 of their World Famous Barbecue Chicken Dinners.
“Throughout the years many visitors ask why more aren’t cooked if we sell out. The committee relies on experience, weather and record keeping to plan how much to cook but in the end it’s a gamble. If too much chicken is cooked it impacts our ability to support community projects. If we don’t cook enough we leave hungry visitors. To add to the difficulty, the cooking process requires that the decision on how much to cook must be made hours before the crowd arrives. Last year the chairmen nailed it and didn’t sell out until 7 Friday, 7:30 Saturday and 4:30 Sunday,” said Eric Stachler, public relations.
While it took 14 years to break the prior record set in 2002 the board has been busy trying improve the process and to continue the year over year sales increases.
“There is pride in serving so much chicken but it’s equally important to maintain quality and service. In 2016 the chicken line averaged 1,600 dinners sold per hour and at peak capacity we sold more than 2,500 dinners per hour. To put that in perspective that is 41 dinners per minute!,” said Stachler.
For 2017, the board will have enough supplies on the grounds to sell 27,500 dinners. Each dinner comes with ½ a chicken, Mikesells chips, applesauce, the traditional “Chilly Willy” orange drink and a dinner roll for $8. Chicken sales begin at 3:30 p.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday.
“While the Board is prepared to sell 27,500 dinners come early to satisfy your chicken craving because we plan to sell out,” he said. “A quick peek at the festival schedule will allow you to plan your chicken celebration.”
Most events are still accepting registrations and many accept entries up to the day of the event. For instance, the 5K under the leadership Greenville based YOLO will accept reservations up to the race Saturday, June 10. Details for entering the Photo, Art, Egg, Cake and Flower contests are available at www.versaillespoultrydays.com at www.versaillespoultrydays.com Entries for the Antique Car Display and Parade to be held on Sunday begin at 9 a.m. Entries for the FREE Kiddie Tractor Pull and the winner take all Corn hole tournament are also accepted on Sunday.
Offering two of the largest parades in the area, the Grand Parade will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday while the Antique Car parade will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. By popular demand the antique car display will return to South Center street allowing patrons to browse the vehicles from the grounds. Larry and Joan (Bulcher) Roll have been selected as Honorary Parade Marshals. The festival will also offer an Antique Tractor display.
The first festival in the area to shut down a highway to put up a Social Tent. The grounds will be rockin with nine live acts beginning at 3 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m., Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday, including Whiskey Bizness, Saw Creek and Empty Tank. Seating has been increased and over 30 beverages from MillerCoors, Anheuser-Busch, and The Winery at Versailles will be offered. New for this year the Winery will offer a limited run of 50 cases of “Rooster Red” only to be sold the weekend of the festival. If you ever wondered where all the talent in the Social Tent comes from check out the Worch Library Talent Show to be held Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
The Serendipity Mothers and Darke County Tourism will offer a Green Screen free of charge to festival-goers to take their picture in front of a fun chicken background. While you are in the vendor area check out the merchandise. The “Moms” have worked with vendors to establish reduced prices, sales and drawings especially for the festival.
Returning this year is the extremely popular Agriculture Awareness and Promotion Tent operated by Versailles FFA, FFA Alumni, and Darke County Farm Bureau. Activities inside the tent will include: hands-on crafts related to agriculture, cow milking, petting zoo, tractor simulator, egg hatching, an obstacle course and free promotional materials.
Additional displays will include Bear Hollow Wood Carvers and Rage and Rocko the Dalmatian Duo. NEW for this year will be displays from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Auglaize County 4-H, and Go Crown will be operating a video wall with pictures and videos from the Poultry Days archives. Soak up more history and air conditioning at the Versailles Area Historical Society which will be offering extended hours and new displays.
Visit Heritage Park, to watch 65 teams from throughout the United States and Canada compete in the Ultimate Frisbee Tournament. Visitors may see their hardboiled egg eating contest for charity. Versailles Loves its Ultimate Players.
Be a Chick! In the rest of the world a chick is a cute but delicate young bird. In Versailles, a chick is a confident, dynamic young woman. A group of young ladies will compete for the title of Little Miss Poultry Days on Friday at 6:30 p.m. while a group of slightly older ladies will compete to be the 2017 Miss Chick on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Big O’s Amusements returns to the festival with carnival games and rides continuing at reduced prices. Ride all day for $20 or only $15 if you buy presale. K of C Bingo, pony rides and a petting zoo. In addition to chicken there will be your favorite festival foods including those from the Versailles Music Boosters.
2017 Festival Chairman Kissinger has been on the Poultry Days Board of Directors for 8 years. Kevin works at Covington Savings & Loan in Covington and resides in Versailles with his wife Mindy, their son Owen and two step daughters Mallory and Danica. He also serves on the Northern Counties Advisory Council of Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley and the Covington Noon Optimist Club.
“While our chicken is World Famous, festival-goers will be traveling from nearby towns, nearby states and a few countries for more than chicken, a parade and a Social Tent. Poultry Days is a part of small town Americana that can’t be duplicated. Friends and families gathering to enjoy a summer weekend. A chance for a child to watch a parade, ride a pony and have ice cream. Poultry Days is both a way for Versailles to gather as a community but also to welcome visitors. The Poultry Days Board and the Village of Versailles invite you to join us,” said Stachler.