For 25 years, Bowie, Texas has held an outdoor festival under the name of Chicken and Bread Days. It’s always celebrated on the first Saturday in October, in honor of Bowie having once been the home of the world’s largest chicken ranch.
As the story goes, a local man, Amon Carter, would sell chicken and bread sandwiches at the railway station to passengers traveling by train. He was something of an icon in the community, and everyone recognized him right away. In 1908, a city ordinance put an abrupt halt to peddling around the depot. That may have ended the sandwich tradition, but it didn’t stop the chicken business in Bowie. Mose and Mabel Johnson started that legacy with $15 to their name, and a shoebox of baby chicks. What they launched has formed a legacy that is the foundation of today’s Chicken and Bread Days.
Bowie was the location of a mammoth incubator in the 1920s, which held 6,000 eggs. There the M. Johnson Poultry Ranch were breeders of the worlds best laying strain of single comb white leghorns. Or as they like to say at the festival, Bowie had the world’s biggest chicken ranch before they had the world’s biggest knife.
So, was COVID going to ‘coop’ Chicken & Bread Days in 2020? According to the mayor, Gaylynn Burris, “A visit from the Texas Governor was the only way that Bowie wasn’t going to have their annual festival.” Well, the Governor never showed up, and the festival went on. And the Chicken & Bread Days Fiddling contest would be the first LIVE contest in the state of Texas in 2020.
Saturday morning, hot rods lined the streets, and the aroma of fried chicken was in the air. Not far from the excitement of the bounce house was the fire station. The truck bay had become an auditorium for the day, hosting the 24th Annual Fiddling Contest. An approved Texas Old Time Fiddlers’ Association competition, Chicken and Bread Days has no entry fee, however one must be TOTFA member to compete. CDC guidelines were encouraged for safety. Fiddlers of all ages and talents posed perfectly on the stage, surrounded by hay bales, pumpkins, and the Lone Star State Flag.
There was all day fiddling with some up and coming stars, and many that have already made the climb. This was an outstanding contest and the first time that Bluegrass Today attended.
Here is a slide show of photos from that day.