They came for the candy. While thousands lined the parade route for the annual Poultry Days Grand Parade, many of them were children who spent more time watching for candy than the parade itself. (Bob Robinson photo)
VERSAILLES – “I came here for the candy,” said the young man. His little sister echoed him. For Annabelle Menke, it was her third trip to the annual Versailles Poultry Days Parade, while brother Michael boasted eight visits. They consented to a picture behind the painted chickens near them on the parade route. “We’ll scare the chickens from laying eggs,” Michael said. They had arrived early for the June 14 event.
While thousands of people lined the parade route, tens of thousands more came for the chicken. Six thousand were sold by Friday evening. They were reportedly sold out by 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Volunteers said they expected to sell about 25,500 chickens. While visitors were there, they enjoyed the industrial and business area, food and concessions, bingo, crafts, art and photography, Ultimate Frisbee tournament, the 5K run/walk and more. A proud former Versailles resident, Dianne Poeppleman, announced her son Tory O’Connor had won the 5K for the third year in a row. His time was 16:55.
The parade crowds were heaviest in the downtown area. Of particular interest to those waiting for the parade to start was the “Sculptural Village” in downtown Versailles. Many children, including 4-year-old Jenna Whitlington, liked to sit next to the statue of the painter.
Among the local and area visitors were about a dozen fourth, fifth and sixth graders from China. Henry Yan, one of the advisors, explained this was a summer camp tour. They work on learning English in the morning, then tour the area they happen to be in. They started on the East Coast and have worked their way to Versailles. It was the second time they’d been there for the Poultry Days parade.
Yan said they were from Xi-An, the ancient capital of China.
“That’s where they found the soldiers buried in the wall (Great Wall of China),” he said. They were ancient warriors who had died protecting China from invaders to the west, he added.
According to Versailles Fire Department volunteers there were 104 entries; the parade lasted a little over an hour. Another volunteer said chicken sales wouldn’t start until 11, and by 12:15 the line was stretched beyond the sidewalk and along the street.
That didn’t stop the vendors from making their profits… most had lines six to a dozen or more deep.
Jenna Whitlington, 4, watched the famous painter at work at Versailles’ Sculptural Village as she waited for the parade to start. (Bob Robinson photo)
Miss Chick 2013 Lauren Gehret and her court, First Runner-up Kristen Collins and Second Runner-up Jaclyn Lawrence, greeted visitors along the parade route. (Bob Robinson photo)