Each May in Nashville, floppy hats and pastels are donned en masse for the Iroquois Steeplechase, among the most genteel excuses to tailgate in Tennessee.
While appreciated all around Middle Tennessee, we think it’s safe to say Steeplechase doesn’t really clear out East Nashville, so much. Which leaves some room that weekend for the new East Nashville Chicken Chase and Hot Hen Hoedown, a neighborhood gathering for sporting enthusiasts who are open to celebrating in a manner that’s a little less champagne, a little more champagne of beers.
“My co-producer Stephanie Urbina Jones and I were sitting at Bongo Java with Jack Davis of the Tomato Art Fest, talking about creating a Mother’s Day Festival,” Chicken Chase co-producer Kelly Easter says of the event’s genesis. “We looked at the Nashville calendar and realized the date we wanted (was) the same day as Steeplechase… Lord knows how it came out but one of us baaaaaawked, ‘Let’s do an East Side Chicken Chase!’ All of us had been hearing all the fun backyard chicken stories from our neighbors and friends in the community.”
The inaugural Chicken Chase is set for Saturday, May 10 at Pavilion East (11th and Fatherland) from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and indeed, it will include an actual chicken chase, along with a broad array of other family-friendly activities: a spa tent dubbed The Hen Den, a Hot Hen fashion show, a chicken egg hunt, live music, local food and beverages, vendors and lots more. It’s also free.
Ahead of the event, we chatted with Kelly to get a little more insight into a tongue-in-cheek all-day party that’s aiming to be an East Nashville tradition.
The East Nashvillian: Looks like you have a full day planned -- can you tell us any more about the Chase events and what you have in the works?
Kelly Easter: “Barnyard doors will open at 10 a.m. with the Hen Den, a place to pamper your hen with massage, chocolate, mimosas and more, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. From 10 to 11 a.m., the Chicken Whisperer will be the baawk of the town, followed by Chicken Line Dancing from DanceEast and a Little Chicken Talent Show brought to us by Fanny’s House of Music.
The Hot Hen Fashion Show will rock the Chicken Walk at 1 p.m., followed by the Best Hen Hat Contest — open to all festival-goers — and the Chicken Chase Race at 3 p.m. Chicken Poo Bingo will be held in the Rooster Coop from 4 to 6 p.m., with Mamas Gotta Sing — an all-women’s East Nashville-and-more group of all stars — rockin’ the Hen House Stage to close the night from 6 to 8.
There will be boutique shopping, local food trucks, beer, cocktails and music throughout the day as well as a Barn Yard Photo Booth from noon to 2. The Margaret Maddox East Nashville YMCA will provide a Little Chicken Corral from noon to 4 where parents can safely drop off their kids for old-fashioned fun while they enjoy themselves and get a little chicken crazy.”
Since the Chicken Chase is the day before Mother's Day, do you see it as a good Mother's Day-gift outing?
“Why Yes... We will be pampering our Hot Hens in the Hen Den all day long, and have Mother’s Day packages — (including) a chair, hand and/or foot massage, aromatherapy, chocolate, hors d'oeuvres, a meal from one of our fabulous food vendors, mimosas and more including a Mother’s Day gift bag with all kinds of Hot Hen goodies — available online starting Thursday, April 10th. (There are only 100 packages available!) We have a Mother’s day Meditation, Restore and Rejuvenate Yoga Hour in the works as well… Details coming soon!”
Fashion is a big part of what people notice and talk about with Steeplechase. What do you expect Chicken Chase fashion to be like?
“East Side, funky, cool, campy, old-fashioned fun! There will be a whole cast of characters from family-friendly Chickendale Dancers to Hot Hen Mamas with outrageous big hats, cowboy boots, boas and more. There will be a Hot Hen Fashion show with a number of great East Nashville boutiques including MOSS, Crescent Moon and Tiffany’s Boutique as well as world-renowned country to rock ’n’ roll designer Manuel contributing looks to the event. Pop Star Tiffany and her staff have signed on to produce the Hot Hen Fashion Show along with Studio Green Organic Salon & Spa doing all the hair and makeup.”
Steeplechase horses are bred and trained for their jobs -- how are you finding/prepping the right chickens to compete in the Chicken Chase Race?
“Thankfully we got got a direct Hot Hen line to the Chicken Whisperer who will be doing a backyard chicken educational workshop to kick off the day at 10 a.m. He is like a rock star in the chicken world and was instrumental in helping our community get the backyard chicken ordinance passed in Nashville. We were also put in touch with some Hot Hen leaders at the forefront of the Nashville backyard chicken movement who will be guiding us and serving as our consultants throughout the execution of the Chicken Chase Race and Chicken Poo Bingo.”
For more on the East Nashville Chicken Chase And Hot Hen Hoedown — and to keep up with the latest — visit the event’s Facebook page.