Bluegrass and Chicken Festival

Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Petersburg Police Chief Larry Hardin, left, endures another splash of cold water to help raise money for the Lions Club in his town. Below, Randy Taylor holds his trophy awarded for his victory in the Chicken and Dressing contest

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

PETERSBURG -- Hundreds of people enjoyed a folksy, hometown festival in this Marshall and Lincoln counties' hamlet on Saturday when Tennessee's autumn day bordered on an Indian summer.

But with a gentle breeze, Police Chief Larry Hardin was shivering, wet and feeling very cold seated in a chair under a device that breaks balloons filled with water when a thrown ball hits a bull's-eye at $3 per turn. The water was left out overnight.

"It's for a good cause," Hardin said, naming "The Lions Club" of Petersburg as the beneficiary of his donated time.

The chief had been there for nearly two hours.

That's just one scene from Lion's Pride Park during the service club's annual Bluegrass and Chicken Festival including the bands Blue Lonesome from Indiana and, from Fairview, Tenn., Lane Johnson and the Jingo Jammers.

Lane Johnson is an eight-year-old fiddle player who moved his bow so quickly that it loosened a string he plucked in time with a great railroad song, "The Orange Blossom Special." The string slipped off its groove and Stuart Johnson - one of the Jingo Jammers - stepped forward to adjust his son's violin.

As his father tightened and released the string, the son of Brandy and Stuart Johnson played on to the fascination of a playful audience seated on chairs placed under and around a shade tent near the park's gazebo stage.

The next planned entertainment for the grinning crowd was a game of Chicken and Dressing in which the Chicken Dance Polka blared from a loudspeaker and then stopped as it might during a game of musical chairs. When music was played, contestants passed a bag filled with articles of clothing. When music stopped, one of the contents had to be removed and then worn.

Chris "Bubba" Bailey wore a double D sized brassiere on his head. Jojo Taylor had pink and white bunny ears on his head, but it was Randy Taylor of Petersburg who won with a long grey wig and witch's hat on his head and a shiny-pink, short nightgown wrapped around his torso.

"I was set up for this," Bailey said while being photographed. "Are you from the Marshall County paper? Oh no. My customers will kill me."

He's the proprietor of Taylor Made Cabinets in Lincoln County.

Jerry Braswell of Shelbyville enjoyed the festival even though someone in a lion costume snuck up on him.

"This is my first time here," Braswell said. "It's kind of like Auburntown."

Susan Russell, one of the festival's organizers, noted the club's day-long event was started in 2005. Now, it's attracting notables from various venues. For example, Donny McElvoy, host of his own cable TV show on the Sportsman's Channel, was the announcer for the Chicken and Dressing contest. Stuart L. Johnson, one of the Jingo Jammers, is the Fairview City Commissioner who's campaigning for election as the Williamson County property assessor.

Marshall County Sheriff Norman Dalton was also at the festival with his wife and newest granddaughter.

The festival also had an implied guarantee that nobody could leave hungry because the events included a Chicken Nugget Eating Contest and a Peep Eating Contest. Chicken Bowling, a Skillet Toss and a Wheel of Fortune were also part of the event as well as a wide variety of craft and food vendors.