Produced by The Spears Group, The National Fried Chicken Festival (FCF) presented by Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers took place at Woldenberg Riverfront Park on Saturday, September 23 and 24 attracting 166,000 attendees over the weekend. In its second year, the festival expanded to two-days, a venue five times larger, 35 chefs and restaurants as well as the addition of two more stages. As the producers of FCF, Spears Group executed all event logistics, guests experience, sponsorship activations, all marketing and public relations and more.
"For the second year, we are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the community. 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," said Cleveland Spears, III, President and CEO of the Spears Group and FCF organizer. "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."
As the Spears Group’s flagship event, the second annual festival featured independently owned restaurants from local to national favorites. Attendees enjoyed entertainment on three stages: the main stage featuring live music, the Sizzle Shack sponsored by Rouses Markets for cooking demonstrations and the Cluck If You Buck DJ stage. New to this year's fest, free on-site activations included the AT&T and Best Buy Football Fan Zone, the GoNOLA Mist and Chill Lounge, the Louisiana Federation for Children Kids' Coop, the Raising Cane’s Caniac Clubhouse and the Sucré Sweet Spot. The Moet Chicken and Champagne Lounge returned for its second year with new amenities including front stage and side stage access.
Three contests for the festival included the Raising Cane’s Chicken Finger Eating Contest, 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 won the Best Fried Chicken Contest. The Original Fiorella's Cafe won the coveted Best Fried Chicken Contest, for the second year in the row.
Todd Graves, Raising Cane’s President and CEO, along with Cleveland Spears, III, President and CEO of the Spears Group and FCF founder, awarded Kerry Seaton Stewart of Willie Mae’s Scotch House the 2017 Culinary Icon Award. Last year's inaugural award was presented to Chef Leah Chase, the matriarch of Dooky Chase.
On Saturday, Naughty Professor closed the main stage, and Big Freedia closed the festival on Sunday with an ode to bounce.
For more information, visit friedchickenfestival.com.