Delmarva Chicken Festival to end in 2014
This year's 65th event will be the last
The 64th annual Delmarva Chicken Festival was held in Snow Hill in 2013. Organizers announced Friday they will discontinue the event after 2014. / FILE PHOTO
Written by Deborah GatesStaff Writer
Apr. 20, 2014
SALISBURY — The Delmarva Chicken Festival, an “Eastern Shore way of life” since 1948, will make its 65th and final run on June 20-21 at the Queen Anne’s County 4-H Park near Centreville, officials announced Friday.
First organized as a one-time backdrop for a national competition to develop “a better meat type chicken,” the event continued as a popular means of promoting and spotlighting Delmarva’s growing chicken industry. But times have changed, and Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc., the trade association for the peninsula’s chicken industry and the event’s overall sponsor, announced it would discontinue sponsorship after the June event.
Throughout its history, the event has rotated through different places on Delmarva since 1948 — from Dover to Salisbury, Federalsburg to Snow Hill — every year for more than 60 years, except for the two times it was canceled due to avian flu outbreaks. The first festival, held in Georgetown, was DPI’s first project.
“DPI is refocusing its mission and feels that in today’s world there may be more effective ways to promote the chicken industry and educate the general public about Delmarva’s No. 1 agricultural enterprise. This was a very difficult decision made with much consideration by the DPI Board of Directors,” said DPI President Keith Moore. “DPI recently reviewed its long-term strategic plan and feels that this change is needed to best meet the needs of its members.”
While during the last six decades DPI has adjusted its programs periodically to meet new challenges, supporters say the loss of one of poultry’s signature events is another blow to the industry criticized by environmentalists and embroiled in court wranglings over pollution accusations.
“The atmosphere in Annapolis is not as conducive to the production of poultry as it has been,” said Virgil Shockley, a Worcester County commissioner and a poultry grower. “There are regulations after regulations, and you’re going to get backlash. I can’t tell you what went through their minds in deciding to discontinue the festival, but as a commissioner, I’ve watched the whole thing — poultry has been under assault in Annapolis.