Fried Chicken Festival 2020 cancelled due to COVID-19
Yet another New Orleans festival has succumbed to COVID-19 as organizers announced this week that the 2020 National Fried Chicken Festival (FCF) has been cancelled. The three-day festival would have celebrated its fifth anniversary in the fall and likely set new attendance records. In 2019 it broke its previous record by welcoming more than 183,000 guests to Woldenberg Riverfront Park.
“While we are deeply disappointed that we will not be able to host the festival this year, the health and well-being of our guests and our entire community are our highest priority,” said Cleveland Spears III, founder and producer of National Fried Chicken Festival presented by Raising Cane’s. “We know that our hospitality industry and independently owned restaurants that vend at the festival have been devastated by this pandemic. We hoped that our festival would have assisted in our region’s recovery and contribute to the state’s cultural economy. We plan to return next year with an extraordinary experience and once again celebrate America’s favorite dish.”
Spears said planning for FCF, which organizers work on year-round, was paused in March as the COVID-19 pandemic spread and other large festivals began rescheduling for fall, and then ultimately cancelling. The new guest experiences and activation events that had been planned for 2020 will shift to FCF 2021, and Spears said the surprises will be newsworthy. The music lineup was not yet planned for 2020.
FCF organizers have been monitoring the pandemic data and recognized the increase in cases both statewide and nationally would not allow for a safe event in 2020.
Raising Cane’s, a chicken finger restaurant chain, is the national sponsor of the festival. Founder and CEO Todd Graves said he is optimistic about the future.
“We remain focused on doing what’s best for our crew, our customers and our communities as well as with the events we support such as National Fried Chicken Festival,” Graves said in a statement. “While we are disappointed that the festival can’t go on as planned, we look forward to bringing everyone back together to celebrate in 2021.”
According to Spears, there are currently no plans for a virtual festival. The festival’s merchandise, which grew in popularity each year, will not be available at this time.
Beyond his role with FCF, Spears is also the president and CEO of Spears Group, a strategic communications firm. He is dedicated to the New Orleans community and he and his team have been working behind the scenes to help during these unprecedented times.
“We are helping the hospitality industry through our services to our clients such as NOLABA, the River Parishes Tourist Commission and the New Orleans City Council among others,” said Spears. “We also created the SewDat program in partnership with the New Orleans City Council that has provided approximately 25,000 face coverings to front line workers such as grocery stores, restaurant workers and ride share drivers.”
For updates on the 2021 festival, visit friedchickenfestival.com.