What comes to mind when you hear the words KFC Chicken?
I immediately picture Colonel Sanders. The Colonel opened his first fried chicken restaurant in London, Kentucky in the 1940s and the 21st Annual World Chicken Festival celebrates that heritage each year. This year's event, starting on 9/23 and flowing through 9/26, is expected to draw over 250,000 spectators.
One of the activities here that caught my attention are the World's Largest Stainless Steel Skillet that can cook 600 chickens at one time!! (Since 1992, that skillet has cooked over 120,000 fried chicken dinners at the festivals!)
Measuring 10'6" in diameter and 8" deep, the skillet has an 8' handle and weighs 700 lbs. It holds 300 gallons of cooking oil. Just to bread the 7,000 pieces of chicken that will be cooked there at this year's event will take 375 lbs of flour, 75 lbs of salt, 30 lbs of pepper and 30 lbs of paprika. They won't tell us anymore about the "secret ingredients" that give that chicken it's fantastic flavor, though.
Once you've eaten your fill of chicken, you can meander over to the Colonel Sanders Look-A-Like Contest or check out the Crowing, Strutting and Clucking Competitions.
Or, you could hang around for the Redneck Games! This year's games include: watermelon seed spitting, spam eating, toilet lid horseshoes, a redneck joke competition (with audience participation), armpit serenade (judged by song recognition), bobbing for pig's feet (done blindfolded), burping contest (judged on length of burp and song content) and corn shucking. You just don't see these things everyday!!
How about something a little more tame? Then check out the Irmo Okra Strut Festival in Irmo, South Carolina on September 24th and 25th. The main guest of honor here is, of course, okra! Featuring Okra Eating Contests on both Friday and Saturday, this festival features all the traditional food fare along with their famous "fried okra", deliciously seasoned and served up by the Lake Murray-Irmo Women's club. (Check out the festival website for a great recipe for this.) There is a "Guess the Pods" contest and other okra related competitions. The festival parade featuring over 100 units, is the State's largest festival parade!!
Finally, go west young friend! Head for The Whole Enchilada Fiesta in Las Cruces, New Mexico, held September 24th- 26th. There, you will find the World's Largest Enchilada (It holds the Guiness title!)
You can watch them construct this giant behemoth at 11 a.m. on the 26th. They'll use 750 lbs. of stone ground corn to make the massa dough to make the giant tortilla. Once pressed, the tortilla will be carried by 14 men to the cooking vat filed with 175 gallons of vegetable oil. (Did I mention they heat that oil to 550 degrees?!?) Once cooked, those men will carry the tortilla to a custom made serving plate where the enchilada will be filled with chile sauce, onions, and more. It takes approximately 2 1/2 hours from start to finish in the making of the World's LARGEST Enchilada! Spectators will then be given the opportunity to enjoy free samples of the whole enchilada.
Drats!!! I've run out of space, tonight.
Tune in tomorrow for the most interesting event of the weekend - a Roadkill Festival!! (Seriously, folks. I kid you not.)
Happy Thanksgiving, Serious Eaters! - With the Thanksgiving preparation madness winding down, and the cooking madness about to begin, I have to take a moment to reflect on the many, many things...