A great place to meet chicksCrowds turn out for annual Carlton, Mahtowa chicken swaps
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
A lone chicken bolted down Chestnut Avenue in Carlton Saturday morning, no doubt enjoying a touch of spring fever. Little did she know it, but during her few brief moments of freedom she provided some of the best advertising around for the community’s feature event – the Carlton Chicken Swap.
According to co-organizer Shirley Fahrenholz, this year’s Chicken Swap marked the 26th annual event. She explained it was held at the Carlton Feed Mill during its first 25 years, but after the feed mill closed its doors in 2011, the event was moved to the Four Seasons Sports Complex.
Fahrenholz commented that this year’s event went very well, and added “Everyone there seemed to be happy.”
The enthusiasm for the event was so great, in fact, that the first potential buyer arrived the night before and parked next to the building all night. Others, she added, began showing up around 6 a.m. Saturday, with the vendors close behind them at 6:30 a.m. – well before the scheduled 8 a.m. start.
“The cars were packed all over the lot,” said Fahrenholz, who reported there were four to five rows of vendors who brought all sorts of animals to sell, from goats to guinea hens, as well as pheasants, kittens, horses and, of course – chickens. Others brought homegrown goods, including tomato plants, iris, meat, honey, jam, granola, and even fresh homemade doughnuts.
Fahrenholz estimated there were 300-400 people who visited the swap Saturday morning.
Carlton is already planning its Fall Chicken Swap, which is set for Sept. 8.
Not far down the road at TJ’s Country Corner in Mahtowa, a similar event was taking place at the same time – a “newbie” Chicken Swap, according to store proprietor Tom Bislow, who said the local event was first pioneered last fall and proved highly successful.
“People just seem to love it,” Bislow commented.
He figured the swap attracted about 300 people in all between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., after which most of the merchandise had already been sold. The goods included chickens, turkeys, peacocks and small animals, while a handful of vendors brought baked goods and maple syrup to “swap.” One vendor even brought a batch of newly hatched chicks, despite the day’s cool, blustery weather, and Bislow said they all sold right away.
He said one woman brought chickens to sell and when they were all gone, a few of the eager customers followed her home so they could buy more.
“It was one of those days where you could probably have swapped your spouse – but we couldn’t find a lawyer who works Saturdays!” Bislow joked.
Though the swap itself is fairly new to TJ’s, the concept is familiar – they host a farm market every Sunday from June through September.
Bislow said a Fall Chicken Swap is in the works and set for Sept. 15.