Every now and then, there is an occurrence that is so legendary a festival honoring the occasion is spurred from the event in time. Festivals happen nearly every day all across the globe.

These festivals honor the food, people, holidays, and moments in history. However, there is one festival in Colorado that has us scratching our heads with wonder and a bit of confusion.

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One of the very last towns on Interstate 70, before you get to the Colorado-Utah border, is Fruita. Fruita was home to a legendary chicken by the name of Mike in the 1940's.

Photo by Paolo Chiabrando on Unsplash
Photo by Paolo Chiabrando on Unsplash

Mike wasn't born to be a legendary chicken but destined to become a family dinner to the Olsen family on September 10, 1945. Lloyd Olsen went and picked out Mike as the main course of the meal, grabbed the chicken, swung the ax to chop off Mike's head, and Mike just kept living after what should have been a fatal blow to the noggin.

Mike shook off the ax wound and went back to pecking the ground like a normal, head-in-tact chicken. As to why Lloyd didn't finish off Mike after the first failed attempt is unknown.

How Did Mike the Headless Chicken Live Through the Injury?

Olsen found Mike the next day with what remained of his head the next morning under his wing. Curious as to how Mike was still alive and how he could keep the chicken alive, Olsen took Mike to the University of Salt Lake City a week after the head hacking.

Scientists determined that Mike was able to live without the majority of a head was due to the ax missing the jugular and a clot forming. This luck of the whack made it so Mike didn't bleed to death. Mike was able to remain a mostly normal chicken minus having a head because most of a chicken's reflexes are in the brain stem which remained intact.  The headless chicken was not only healthy but flourished from a two-and-a-half-pound chicken to nearly eight pounds.

Mike The Headless Chicken Hits the Road on a Nationwide Tour

The Olsens, a manager, and Mike the Headless Chicken hit the road on a nationwide tour with stops in New York, Atlantic City, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Many people wanted to see the sideshow dubbed the "Wonder Chicken". Mike the Headless Chicken was even featured in both Life and Time Magazine.

The Demise of Mike the Headless Chicken

The Olsens were returning home from a show and stopped at a motel in the Arizona desert. Sadly, Mike, the Headless Chicken started to choke in the middle of the night. The Olsens were unable to locate the eyedropper that was used to clear Mike's esophagus and the Wonder Chicken choked to death.

Photo by Mai Moeslund on Unsplash
Photo by Mai Moeslund on Unsplash

Mike the Headless Chicken Festival is Born

Mike the Headless Chicken's spirit is celebrated every year in the city of Fruita, Colorado. The festival takes place on the first weekend of June with poultry shows, car shows, a 5K race, Disc Golf Tournament, and vendors.

If you would like to learn more about Mike the Headless Chicken and the festival that honors his life, you can check out all of the festivities at Mike the Headless Chicken.


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