June 27, 2023 – The Poultry Federation (TPF), a multi-state trade organization representing the poultry and egg industry in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, hosted their 63rd Annual Poultry Festival. Attendees were welcomed by the lights of “The Chicken Strip” at the Rogers Convention Center in Rogers, Arkansas on June 9-10, 2023.
For over six decades, The Poultry Federation (TPF) has hosted the annual event celebrating the poultry and egg industry with its finest, drawing members and friends of the industry from all across the country. Over 4,000 tickets were sold to the festival, impacting the Rogers economy by $3 million dollars.
“Destination Rogers and the Rogers Lowell Chamber were so thankful to have the 63rd annual Poultry Festival hosted in our community. Every year the hardworking professionals of the poultry and egg industry come together to celebrate their craft and to be the city where that gathering occurs means a great deal to us. Plus the event is a good time and we like having a good time here! On behalf of the city of Rogers and local business community, thank you to the Poultry Federation and everyone who attended. Most importantly thank you to those whose efforts put all the poultry and egg products on our plates we enjoy every day,” stated Luke Wiggins, Director of Sales at Destination Rogers.
The two-day event started with a full day of sporting events including: a golf tournament hosting 98 teams in Bella Vista, a trap shoot tournament of 125 individuals at Outlaw Ridge, a bass tournament on Beaver Lake with 132 fishermen, and the annual women in poultry event which hosted close to 200 women.
Friday evening the annual presentation of industry awards took place in the Rogers Convention Center recognizing individuals whose leadership has resulted in major and outstanding advances and new directions as it relates to the poultry and egg industry. The 2023 Industry Leader of the Year was awarded to Kendra Waldbusser, Global Head of Food Safety & Quality Assurance at Pilgrim’s. Greg Rucker, Outside Sales for Conveyor Technology received The 2023 Allied Industry Leader of the Year for Processing. The 2023 Allied Industry Leader of the Year for Production was the final award to be presented and was given posthumously to Chip Blocker.
The Federation hosted their 27th Annual Allied Industries Scholarship Auction, raising a record amount $135,000. For over 20 years, these funds have helped TPF provide scholarships to deserving young people interested in pursuing a career in the poultry and egg industry. All proceeds from the auction are applied to the scholarship fund and will be used to award scholarships to students in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
“Our members believe in the power of investing in the future leaders of the industry. We are thankful for the tremendous support that we have received from our members. They are the reason we can continue to provide scholarships to students across the tri-state region,” stated Holly Duval, Director of Marketing and Business Development.
All Member Cooking Competition
This year was a record year for the Annual All-Member Cooking Competition with 35 companies filling the parking lot. Team lit up The Chicken Strip decorating their booths with Las Vegas ornamentation, such as slot machines, roulette wheels and wedding chapels. Décor also included tributes to famous sites on The Las Vegas Strip and team members dressing as Elvis Presley and other iconic figures. To top off the affairs there was even a real wedding hosted during the event. Along with the booth contestants, teams competed with various flavors, cooking methods and styles for the highly anticipated cook-off. Teams had their eye on the Grand Champion award and they put all their chips on the table in order to keep the stakes high. View full list of recipients here
The All Member Cooking Competition was also the host site for the Arkansas 4-H State Barbecue Cook-Off with 16 youth participants. The finalists of the 4-H State Barbecue cook-off included:
1st Place- Jeremiah Moix, Saline County
2nd Place- Jackson Russell, Izard County
3rd Place -Jake Castleberry, Bradley County
1st Place Blakeley Thompson, Clark County
2nd Place Elizabeth Velasco, Monroe County
3rd Place Gavin Hogue, Johnson County
To be eligible to participate in the state 4-H cooking competition, students compete at the county level. Only 16 students are part of the state 4-H cooking competition. Students have the choice to cook turkey or chicken and are judged on a specific set of criteria.
Awards are given to first, second, and third place participants. The award winners then go on to compete at the National 4-H Poultry and Egg Conference in Louisville, Kentucky in November. Other 4-H contestants at the conference will compete in poultry judging, egg preparation, and the Avian Bowl. The poultry judging contest teaches participants to make decisions in an orderly manner, use reasoning skills, and communicate decisions. Students also learn to use United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grading criteria to determine quality of ready-to-cook poultry and eggs.
Through a $10,000 donation received from Federation allied member, Vander Graaf (VDG), Arkansas 4-H was able to provide lodging, grills, aprons, and awards for participants of the 2023 state champion cooking competition and travel funds to attend the National 4-H Conference.
“Our experience with The Poultry Federation and 4-H BBQ contest sponsorship was nothing short of spectacular. The competition was not just cooking and creating a masterpiece of flavors, it was also a written and creative assignment,” said Rick Zander of VDG. “It was heartwarming knowing that some of the young participants had never traveled, nor stayed in a hotel, and this was their first opportunity to experience a poultry-industry related event.
The weekend concluded with a festival concert at the Walmart Amp. This year’s entertainment included headliner Chris Janson with opening acts Ray Fulcher and Southerland.