The National Fried Chicken Festival Attracts 166,000 Attendees To Woldenberg Riverfront Park
NEW ORLEANS – The National Fried Chicken Festival (FCF) presented by Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers attracted more than 166,000 attendees to Woldenberg Riverfront Park over the weekend according to entrance clicks conducted by festival security.
The second-year festival took place on Saturday, Sept. 23, from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. with 76,000 festivalgoers and Sunday, Sept. 24, from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., attracting 90,000 visitors to Woldenberg Riverfront Park.
“For the second year, we are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the community,” said Cleveland Spears, III, president and CEO of the Spears Group and FCF organizer. “We are so pleased to have worked with great sponsors, chefs, musicians, volunteers and Audubon Nature Institute to provide this experience for our neighbors across Louisiana and our visiting tourists, who traveled for the festival. While we are thrilled that everyone had a good time, we are even happier to have helped 35 independently owned restaurants have their top revenue days for the year, as well as our ability to support hurricane relief through our Pay it Forward Tent.”
This year's festival also featured more than 35 restaurant chefs and restaurants from across the U.S., celebrity chefs, live entertainment, free on-site activations including the Raising Cane's Caniac Clubhouse, the Louisiana Federation for Children Kids' Coop, the AT&T and Best Buy Football Fan Zone, the Sucré Sweet Spot and the GoNOLA Mist and Chill Zone, and the return of the Moet Chicken and Champagne VIP Lounge. The Raising Cane's ONE LOVE wall also returned for festival goers to share messages of love and encouragement as well as what they love about fried chicken.
Big Freedia and Naughty Professor closed out the main stage on Sunday and Saturday respectively. Celebrity Chef Jeff Henderson, the festival's national spokesperson, hosted the Sizzle Shack presented by Rouses Markets, a cooking demo stage that featured many local chefs including Wayne Baquet of Li'l Dizzy's Cafe. Festival attendees could also dance all-day long and win festival cluck bucks, at the Cluck If You Buck DJ Stage.
FCF held the Raising Cane's Chicken Finger Eating Contest, the Best Fried Chicken and Best Use of Fried Chicken in a Dish. Stephen Welford from Mobile, Alabama won the Raising Cane's Chicken Finger Eating Contest. Salthouse Catering from Charleston, South Carolina took home the prize for Best Use of Fried Chicken in a Dish. For the second year in a row, The Original Fiorella's Cafe won the coveted Best Fried Chicken Contest.
The awards portion of the evening ended with the presentation of the 2017 Culinary Icon Award by Todd Graves, Raising Cane's president and CEO, and Cleveland Spears, III, president and CEO of the Spears Group and FCF organizer. Kerry Seaton Stewart of Willie Mae's Scotch House was this year's recipient for her contribution to the culinary arts. Last year's inaugural award was presented to Chef Leah Chase, the matriarch of Dooky Chase.
“It was an honor to present Kerry with the 2017 Culinary Icon Award,” said Graves. “She and Willie Mae's Scotch House are shining examples of what this festival is about. I'm already looking forward to Fried Chicken Fest 2018.”
The National Fried Chicken Festival presented by Raising Cane's is also sponsored by Rouses Markets, Willie's Chicken Shack, AT&T, New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, Louisiana Federation for Children, NOLA Brewing Co., Capital One, Southern Glazer's Wine and Spirits, NOMTN, French Market Corporation, StateFarm, Sucre, Best Buy, Louisiana Lottery, Smirnoff, Crown Royal, Moet, Peligroso, Event Rental, Event Restroom, Captain Morgan, iHeartMedia, The New Orleans Advocate, WWL-TV, IntheNOLA.com, Cumulus, OffBeat and Where Y'at. FCF is produced by The Spears Group.