Sweet Tea & History: Fitzgerald, what the cluck is up with these chickens?

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 10:08 AM EDT
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FITZGERALD, Ga. (WALB) - From small chickens — to one very large chicken — to an entire town that has drawn the attention of movie producers, Fitzgerald has landed sunny side up as a hidden gem in Georgia.

As the pilot episode for WALB’s latest podcast, “Sweet Tea & History,” I can honestly say, it was a joy to visit the city that is so rich with history.

But what has most people fascinated with the small south Georgia town is its chickens. But these aren’t your everyday chickens. They are actually Red Junglefowl. Fitzgerald is even listed on the American Birding Association’s List of Area Introduced Species for the rare bird.

But how did they come to roost in Fitzgerald?

Well, that’s a little complicated (but we go in-depth into it in the episode), but it all started with an experiment and they were imported in from overseas. Long story short, Fitzgerald ended up being the place they were able to survive. Now, they’re protected by a city ordinance, celebrated annually at the Wild Chicken Festival and are even the reason the city is having a massive topiary chicken built.

Let me correct myself, the city isn’t just building a large topiary chicken, it’s building the world’s largest topiary chicken. Not only that, but the giant bird will also be home to a room you can rent out. So, if you’ve ever wanted a unique experience when traveling, this might be just what you’re looking for.

And as progress on the colossal chicken continues, you can watch from a bird’s-eye-view live on YouTube!

While these birds have drawn a lot of attention from outsiders, they aren’t the only thing drawing people to the city.

Fitzgerald has landed itself on the map, quite literally, for production companies looking for places to film. In fact, Georgia’s Camera Ready Communities has five locations listed in Fitzgerald. Not to mention, Bruce Willis has been out there more than a few times to film.

Bruce Willis filming "Anti-Life" in Fitzgerald.
Bruce Willis filming "Anti-Life" in Fitzgerald.(Source: Alexander Kane)

Basically, while I was there, I learned that Fitzgerald is rich in history, culture, and yes, chickens. And if you’re slightly interested to know more about the city, the birds and/or everything else Fitzgerald has to offer, I suggest listening to the very first episode of WALB’s Sweet Tea and History podcast where we dive into so much of what makes Fitzgerald special.

Overall, I learned that people come to Fitzgerald for the chickens, but stay for everything else. That is why next week’s episode will also be about the city’s history and how it was built out of the comradery of Union and Confederate soldiers following the Civil War.

Copyright 2021 WALB. All rights reserved.

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