It’s a story even Barnum, Bailey and Ripley would be impressed by: A rooster living in 1945 in Fruita, Colorado loses his head to farmer Lloyd Olsen’s ax. But to the man’s surprise, the animal was still alive, and would continue to live for 18 more months without the crucial appendage. Now the legacy of the decapitated chicken, later christened Mike, lives on in Fruita’s annual celebration of Mike’s will to live, the Mike The Headless Chicken Festival.
Self-described “weird historian” Marc Hartzman spoke to Colorado Matters about the origins of the bizarre festival. Back in the day, Mike’s owners took him on tour and people lined up to pay 25 cents to see Mike. While you can’t meet Mike at the Fruita festival, you can enter a peeps and wings eating contests and even play chicken poop bingo.