BERLIN- The Delmarva Chicken Festival, a tradition on the Eastern Shore and across the peninsula for over six decades, will make it final run in June in Centerville in Queen Anne’s County after organizers made the decision to go in a different direction.
The Delmarva Chicken Festival made its first appearance in 1948 and was first organized as a one-time backdrop for a national competition to develop a better type of meat chicken. However, the event continued as a popular means of promoting and spotlighting Delmarva’s growing chicken industry. But times have changed and Delmarva Poultry Inc. (DPI), the trade association for the peninsula’s chicken industry and the event’s overall sponsor, announced this week it will discontinue its sponsorship after the 6th Annual Delmarva Chicken Festival in Queen Anne’s County on June 20-21.
“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 number-one agricultural enterprise,” said DPI President Keith Moore. “This was a very difficult decision made with much consideration by the DPI Board of Directors. DPI recently reviewed its long term strategic plan and feels that this change is needed to best meet the needs of its members.”
The event has moved from town to town around Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Virginia over its 65 years. It was last held in Berlin in 2000. Snow Hill hosted the Delmarva Chicken Festival last year. Pocomoke hosted the festival in 2001. While over the last six decades DPI has adjusted its programs periodically to meet new challenges, just as it is doing with this change, the end of the Delmarva Chicken Festival is one of the most visible changes in the association’s history.
However, rather than diminishing services to its members, leaders of the 1,800-member organization believe it will strengthen DPI and the local chicken industry.
Meanwhile, DPI in partnership with the Queen Anne’s County Delmarva Chicken Festival Committee is working to ensure the 65th rendition is a grand finale for the long-running event. Delmarva’s giant frying pan, which first made its appearance at the 1950 Delmarva Chicken Festival, will be among the many festival attractions. The giant frying pan is 10-feet in diameter with an eight-foot handle. It weighs 650 pounds and can hold 800 chicken quarters. Nearly three tons of chicken are cooked in the giant frying pan during the festival each year. In addition to the frying pan and other food options, there will be baby chicks, educational and historical poultry displays, children’s activities, fun competitions, commercial exhibits, arts and crafts, two days of live entertainment and much more.