Poultry party: 30,000 barbecue chicken dinners in Versailles this weekend

Ryan Stoneberger and his fiancee pose with their prizes after purchasing the One Millionth chicken dinner at Poultry Days in Versailles
Ryan Stoneberger and his fiancee pose with their prizes after purchasing the One Millionth chicken dinner at Poultry Days in Versailles

It’s time for one of Ohio’s oldest and most beloved festivals. The Versailles Poultry Days Festival — almost a “local holiday” in West Central Ohio since its beginnings in 1952 — will take place June 11-13.

Last year, the festival was a carryout-only event duet to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, the theme of the festival is “Village of Champions, Honoring Those Who Make us Great!”

The festival has become famous for its chicken dinners, which features half a chicken that has been slow-cooked over charcoal for two hours and basted with a secret blend. In fact, the bulk chicken option is already sold out.

Here are the five things pulling us to Darke County for this annual event.

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FAIR FOOD IS THE BEST FOOD

There is a reason these chicken dinners sell out year after year at Poultry Days in Versailles. CONTRIBUTED
There is a reason these chicken dinners sell out year after year at Poultry Days in Versailles. CONTRIBUTED

The festival’s famous barbecue chicken dinner is the main draw for Poultry Days — every year the event sells out of the specialty menu item, and no other chicken is permitted to be sold on the premises. Event planners warn to get there early to make sure you get your plate instead of leaving empty-handed. The dinner costs $9 and includes half of a BBQ chicken, Mikesells chips, a roll with butter, applesauce and an orange drink.

Dinners can either be enjoyed in-person at the dining tent and picnic tables or by carryout available at the festival’s four-lane drive-through.

COMPETITIONS GALORE

The Versailles Poultry Days festival, one of Ohio’s oldest and most beloved festivals, took place Friday, June 8 through Sunday, June 10, 2018. The festival far surpassed its 1 millionth chicken dinner milestone goal by selling 1,012,685 BBQ chicken dinners.
The Versailles Poultry Days festival, one of Ohio’s oldest and most beloved festivals, took place Friday, June 8 through Sunday, June 10, 2018. The festival far surpassed its 1 millionth chicken dinner milestone goal by selling 1,012,685 BBQ chicken dinners.

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

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After enjoying your chicken dinner, try your hand at one of the many competitions offered at the festival. Competitions include Little Miss Poultry Days, Miss Chick Contest, the 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run, Angel Food Cake Contest, Egg Contest, Ultimate Frisbee Tournament, Corn Hole Tournament and, of course, the Chicken Eating Contest. Head to the festival’s website to find out the full schedule of events and competitions.

SMALL TOWN FUN

If classic country fair activities are more your cup of tea, there are two parades: the Grand Parade at noon on Saturday and the Antique Car Parade at 10 a.m. on Sunday. Other festivities include music, food, beer, rides and more.

Here’s a Poultry Days throwback. Scenes from the 1953 celebration. CONTRIBUTED
Here’s a Poultry Days throwback. Scenes from the 1953 celebration. CONTRIBUTED

BRING THE KIDS

A returning highlight of the fair is the free kids tractor pull event on Sunday at 1 p.m. Registration for the event begins at noon. But that’s not all the kiddos can get into. There are kids divisions for the art and photography show as well as the egg exhibits.

PHOTO/ART EXHIBIT

The Poultry Days Art and Photography contest is open to all photographers with cash prizes and ribbons up for grabs. This year, there is absolutely no fee to participate. There will be contestants in three categories — student, amateur and professional. Participants may enter their 2-D or 3-D art or photography for a cash prize. The best of show will be awarded an additional cash prize. To see rules, drop off and exhibit times, visit the website for details.

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HOW TO GO

What: Versailles Poultry Days Festival

When: Friday, June 11 from 3 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Saturday, June 12 from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 13 from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Where: 459 S. Center St., Versailles

Cost: Free

Insider tip: If you can’t make the chicken dinner sales start times, you’ll want to arrive before 5 p.m. each day to minimize the chances of a sell out.

Parking: Side streets around the festival grounds

More info: Website | Facebook

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