When the Chandler Ostrich Festival first began 24 years ago, its founders didn’t just look to their fair-feathered friends for inspiration.
“We actually took a look at A.J. Chandler, who was the founder of Chandler and one of the Valley’s largest ostrich farmers,” said Terri Kimble, president and chief executive officer of the Chandler Chamber of Commerce. “We wanted to acknowledge part of our rich heritage and who discovered Chandler.”
The festival takes on a particularly special meaning this year. Not only is it Arizona’s 100th birthday, but both Chandler and the Chandler Chamber of Commerce will be turning 100 this year, as well.
“It’s kind of like the triple crown for the state, the city, and the chamber,” Kimble said.
The festivities kicked off last weekend with the Ostrich Festival Fun Run on Saturday morning, which was accompanied by the Ostrich Festival Parade through downtown Chandler.
The festival itself is March 9-11, and looks to be a weekend jam-packed with entertainment.
Music icons such as Blue Oyster Cult and The Marshall Tucker Band will be performing at various points throughout the weekend, and teen sensation Olivia Holt of Disney Channel’s “Kickin’ It” will be on hand for a meet and greet with fans.
A variety of local music acts such as Rhythm fx, The Tanks, and Exit 48 are also slated to perform.
“People love to be entertained with all the musical stages, and so forth,” Kimble said. “The other key entertainment is the ostrich races.”
Carrying their daring jockeys, the ostriches race around the track in a thrilling competition to reach the finish line. This has proven to be one of the most popular attractions at the festival, and a favorite of Kimble’s.
The ostriches are not limited to the racetrack alone. Attendees may pay a visit to Ostrich Alley, which features such local delicacies as ostrich burgers and emu oil, along with ostrich-related crafts and wares.
There is plenty of other entertainment for patrons to enjoy, as well. Some of the biggest attractions include the petting zoo, monkey shows, cowboys and the beloved bubble show. There are also countless thrill rides, a new reptile show featuring more than 75 reptiles, and over 150 vendors for people to choose from.
“There’s something for everybody to do, all ages,” Kimble said. “We’re really excited, I think we got a great line-up. It’s family fun and it’s affordable.”
The 24th Annual Ostrich Festival will be at Chandler’s Tumbleweed Park, 2250 S. McQueen Road. Tickets are available online, at local Fry’s grocery stores, and at the gate.
For more information, visit www.ostrichfestival.com or call (480) 963-4571.
Patrick Ryan is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. He is a sophomore at Arizona State University.