Mike the Headless Chicken Festival in Fruita, Colorado

Last weekend the good people of the small town of Fruita, Colorado celebrated the 15th Annual Mike the Headless Chicken Festival on May 17th and 18th. Why have they been celebrating Mike for the last 15 years and what is so special about a headless chicken anyway – there are plenty of headless chickens in your grocery store and they are not named and nobody is having a festival in their honor. Just what is so special about Mike the headless chicken? Mike was a Wyandotte chicken, a dual-purpose breed originating in the United States in the late 1800s and kept for their brown eggs and for meat. managed to live for 18 months after his owner chopped off his head with an axe. Not only did he live for 18 months, but he grew from about two and a half pounds to nearly eight pounds and he traveled across the United States from Los Angeles to New York on exhibited as a sideshow “Wonder Chicken”. Mike was even written about in Life and Time Magazines and is a world record holder in the Guinness Book of World Records. Not too shabby for a small-town chicken.

On September 10, 1945, Lloyd Olsen, Mike’s owner, chopped off Mike’s head with an Ax. Lloyd’s wife, Clara had planned on serving Mike for dinner that evening, but Mike had a different idea. Ol’ Mike decided that he would just go on living without his head rather than being served up for the evening dinner. As far fetched as this may sound this is a true story. And I guess this makes Mike the Headless Chicken pretty special and worthy of having an annual festival in his honor.

Mike the Headless Chicken a sideshow freak

The Annual Mike the Headless Chicken Festival was dedicated to the story of one chicken’s amazing will to live and in 2013 the festival hosted events such as a 5k Run, Bike Poker Ride, Disc Golf Tournament, eating contests,and many games and other activities, including “Pin the Head on the Chicken”, the “Chicken Cluck-Off”, and “Chicken Bingo”. The Mike the Headless Chicken festival, as with any good festival, also had live music, delicious food and artisan booths for all to enjoy. Admission was free and this year’s theme was “Mikeritaville” (i.e. island music, sand volleyball, sand castle building, a tiki bar and limbo contests).

So if you missed the 15th Annual Mike the Headless Chicken Festival, you can start making plans now to be at the 16th Annual Mike the Headless Chicken Festival, next year on the third weekend in May. But if for some reason you can’t make it to Fruita, Colorado next May, then at least stop and think about Mike the Headless Chicken, an inspiration to us all!!!

Mike the Headless Chicken a sideshow freak photo in Life Magazine
Photo As It Appeared In The October 22, 1945, Issue Of LIFE Magazine

Fruita, Colorado is also known for its fossils and the town has an interesting dinosaur museum.

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