Ostrich Festival

A few weeks ago I interviewed the Chandler Chamber of Commerce president and CEO about an annual festival that attracts quite a few people. This annual event celebrates the history of ostrich farms in Chandler, Arizona. It sounds like a fun event to attend.

Celebrate Chandler’s history during the Ostrich Festival

Published in SanTan Sun News March 1, 2014 issue

Families can partake in fun and healthy activities while celebrating Chandler’s history during the 26th Ostrich Festival from Friday, March 7, through Sunday, March 9, at Tumbleweed Park.

Ostrich Festival1

The 26th annual Ostrich Festival will kick off with the Mayor’s 5K Fun Run and parade on March 1, but the fun continues Friday, March 7, through Sunday, March 9, for three days of activities.
Submitted photo to the SanTan Sun News

Chandler was the home to the largest ostrich farms in the country in the early 1900s. Twenty-six years ago, the Ostrich Festival was created to pay homage to that.

“We created the Ostrich Festival as a way to celebrate our heritage,” says Terri Kimble, Chandler Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. “It’s a great event to bring families and traditions together.”

Terry Locke, chairman of the Mayor’s 5K Fun Run that officially kicks off festivities on Saturday, March 1, calls the festival a signature event for the community. He says nothing else attracts as many people.

“There is something for everyone,” Locke says. “People are amazed when they see all the things to do. There are so many different stages and entertainment and rides for the kids. It’s a lot to take in, in one day.”

The fun run begins March 1 with registration at 6:30 a.m. followed by the main event at 7:50 a.m. Locke says participants can run or walk down Arizona Avenue to help raise money for the Chandler Education Foundation.

“It’s a nice event and it leads into the (10 a.m.) parade,” Locke says. “The two events complement each other very well.”

Kimble says the parade is a nice way to feature local people and organizations.

It builds momentum and community involvement for the Ostrich Festival a week later, Locke adds. Originally, the festival was held in downtown Chandler but it moved to Tumbleweed Park when it outgrew the space.

“That is a testament to what a local favorite it is,” she says.

One of the yearly traditions of the Ostrich Festival is the Great American Ostrich Races. Attendees can ride the ostrich bareback or participate in the chariot races.

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The Great American Ostrich Races, which will be held Friday, March 7, through Sunday, March 9, at Tumbleweed Park is a favorite of the Ostrich Festival. Submitted photo to the SanTan Sun News

“They are fun,” she says. “Ostriches are very fast.”

Ostriches can run up to 45 miles per hour for about 30 minutes.

The festival will also feature Rhinestone Roper, a horse show that has been entertaining Chandler residents for 15 years. The show thrills its audience with trick roping, knife throwing, bullwhip cracking, gun spinning, fast draw shooting and stunts by veteran trick horses Lucky Joe and Handsome Jack.

The Fearless Flores Thrill Show, which features nine generations of Fearless Flores Family circus performers, will showcase the Globe of Death—a 14-foot steel cage for motorcycle tricks.

“They drive a motorcycle in a sphere and they have someone standing in the middle,” Kimble says.

The Birdman will bring eagles, macaws, hornbills, cassowary, cockatoos, cranes, emu, parrots and a 10-foot wingspan condor all in a free-flying avian extravaganza.

Kimble says the BMX stunt bikes are a crowd favorite. It features athletes who have participated in the X Games.

New this year, is a 6.5-foot diameter water ball, which gives individuals an opportunity to go inside an air sealed hamster ball and walk on water.

The Axe Women Loggers of Maine, Family Magic Show, the Freak Show Deluxe, a live stingray exhibit, Survivor Family Game Show, petting zoo, pony and camel rides, bungee trampoline and pig races are other activities at the Ostrich Festival.

“There is really something for everybody,” Kimble says.

Peyton List, who portrays Emma Rose on the Disney Channel show “Jessie,” will be signing autographs and taking pictures during the festival.

Musical entertainment will also be a part of the Ostrich Festival all weekend.

Edwin McCain will play at 6 p.m. Friday, March 7; A Flock of Seagulls at 8 p.m. Friday, March 7; Three Dog Night at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 8; and Rancho Viejo at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 9, on the main stage. The Twisted Blues, Run 2 Cover and TK and the Irresistibles will play on the Ostrich Coop Stage throughout the weekend as well.

“A community stage has been a great tradition,” Kimble says. “It’s a way to celebrate the community, talents and treasures we have here.”

For foodies, there will be gourmet food trucks and stations featuring dishes such as ostrich burgers, hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken.

Tickets are $7 for seniors and children and $10 for adults.

For more information, visit www.ostrichfestival.com

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