A bill proposed Feb. 14 would make Fayetteville the host of North Carolina's official fried chicken festival — though the city has yet to hold a fried chicken festival.
The bill, proposed by Rep. Elmer Floyd, D-Cumberland, a Fayetteville native, has sparked some controversy in the N.C. General Assembly.
There is already a poultry-themed festival in Rose Hill, N.C. The North Carolina Poultry Jubilee has been celebrated since the 1960s.
The interest in hosting fried chicken festivals in both Rose Hill and Fayetteville is an opportunity for the two towns to collaborate, said Alice Ammerman, a professor of nutrition at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.
“I’m not sure people in Fayetteville knew that Rose Hill had this celebration — from what I’ve heard, they’re willing to sit down over a plate of fried chicken,” Ammerman said.
Fayetteville's first fried chicken festival is planned to take place in May, and annually after that, according to the bill. How fast the bill gets passed depends on the General Assembly, Floyd said.
“I’m hoping to get it out this session, but like anything in the General Assembly this year, the bill process is moving a little slower than how it has in past years,” Floyd said.
The purpose of the festival is to provide a sense of community and fundraise for various departments in Fayetteville, he said.
“We can get people from all across the state to show how they prepare fried chicken,” Floyd said.
Different recipes are a way for families and individuals to show off their heritage, Ammerman said.
“I think people take pride in their own recipes and those of their family members at get-togethers and celebrations, and I think actually a lot of people assume it’s really unhealthy,” Ammerman said. “If the proper kind of oil is used it’s not such a bad dish, and I encourage that it be complemented by other things.”
How the fried chicken festival will portray the food culture surrounding the South and its ancestry is what intrigues Adante Hart, a graduate student in the public health school.
“It’s a really complex history for such a common food,” Hart said. “You have to talk about the racial, social and spiritual elements that fried chicken has, especially in the South.”
American fried chicken has a history that originates from slavery, and it was primarily prepared by enslaved cooks and served to plantation owners, Hart said.
“Will (the festival) talk about the history of slavery in South and North Carolina?” Hart said. “It can’t just be about the food, it has to be about the entire story surrounding around fried chicken.”
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