The annual Chicken Pie Festival in Smithville will feature two major runs, a parade, crafts, entertainment and of course, chicken pie. The festival harks back to the 1930s when a restaurant at the McAfee Hotel served the famous pies.
SMITHVILLE, Ga. -- To be clear, chicken pot pies have vegetables. Chicken pies, like the famous chicken pie at the old McAfee Hotel in Smithville, don't. That was in the 1930s, when more than 30 trains a day passed through the little town.
"A lot of people don't realize Smithville was right at the point where trains would make the turn to Montgomery," said Bobby Usry, a Smithville resident. "We had a coal chute and a water tower."
According to Usry, the transition point was an opportunity for passengers to enjoy the delicious pies. In fact, legend says that many travelers regularly wired ahead to have their plates hot and ready when they arrived. Now the trains are gone and the McAfee burned years ago, but Smithville's annual Chicken Pie Festival offers visitors a day of fun, including chicken pie, two major foot races, a parade and more.
The festival, presented by the Smithville Recreation Club, kicks off this Saturday at 7 a.m. with a 5K run. At 7:45 a.m., the 10K runners will be unleashed.
Brenda Gail Wall plans to complete the 5K, then take on the 10K as well. Danny Wall, her husband and running mate, will ease back a little this year, she said, and stay with just the shorter race. Brenda Gail Wall said the runs are part of Georgia Runner Magazine's Grand Prix series of races, providing opportunities for runners to accumulate points for prizes through Dec. 31.
There will also be a one-mile fun run, she said. All runners receive a T-shirt featuring the festival's mascot chicken wearing running shoes. Interested runners should call Joy Sanders at (229) 869-0064.
At 10 a.m. the festival parade begins, according to festival volunteer Carol Gosa, featuring floats, horses, mules, antique tractors, beauty queens and grand marshal Janell Larkin.
There will also be crafts and venders at the festival, Gosa said. Of course, a classic chicken pie dinner, with black-eyed peas, greens and pound cake, will be served at the Chicken Pie Cafe beginning at 11 a.m. According to Gosa, more than 700 plates were served at last year's festival.
"We've serve up chicken plates till it's all gone," she said.
Bobby Usry and his wife, Betsy, are in charge of the festival's chicken pie contest and need to have all the entrants at the Recreation Club by 11:30 a.m., he said. The pies (remember, no vegetables) will be judged by a five-member panel on a number of qualities, including appearance, tastiness and meatiness. The first-place pie will make $100 for its baker, with $50 for second and $25 for third.
Entertainment will be centered around the downtown gazebo, Gosa said, and will include the Harper Trio, Michael Everson Music, Jeff Davis and Tired Creek, and The Albany Storytellers from Radium Springs Middle Magnet School of the Arts.
According to Bobby Usry, proceeds from the festival are used to fund community projects such as a children's Easter egg hunt or Christmas gifts and a downtown Santa for kids.
"For a lot of the kids in Smithville, this is the only Santa they'll ever have," said Usry. "We do what we can."