Carlton Chicken Swap draws crowd

The event, the first in the town in more than 18 months, provides needed income for local breeders, sale manager Miriah Parker said.

Alyce Fairbanks, 20 months, checks out a chicken for sale during the Carlton Chicken Swap on Saturday, April 24, 2021, at the Four Seasons Sports Complex. (Jamey Malcomb /

Vehicles lined both sides of Chestnut Street in Carlton on Saturday, April 24, as a few hundred people turned out for the city’s first chicken swap since 2019.

Both Carlton Chicken Swaps were canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but a big crowd turned out to the Four Seasons Sports Complex for the first of two scheduled chicken swaps in 2021.

Despite chilly temperatures and light snowfall, swap organizer Miriah Parker said it was a good crowd of vendors and customers. Most vendors were selling chickens and other poultry, but some offered crafts, farm-fresh eggs and homemade jams and jellies.

Caleb Cleveland shows off one of the handmade container gardens he and his brothers were selling Saturday, April 24, 2021, at the Carlton Chicken Swap. (Jamey Malcomb /


Parker, who has been coming to the Carlton Chicken Swap since she was 6 years old, said the lack of an event in 2020 was damaging for some vendors.

“We don’t do a lot of public sales,” Parker said. “People breed animals specifically for this chicken swap. They make a lot of income on this and it helps generate the profit for their business throughout the year.”

Contrary to the event’s name, Parker said few chickens are actually exchanged at the chicken swap. Instead, most attendees are looking to add to their flock at home or see people they haven't in a while.

More than 30 vendors gathered in the parking lot of the Four Seasons Sports Complex parking lot Saturday, April 24, 2021, for the first Carlton Chicken Swap since 2019. (Jamey Malcomb /

“This has always been a place where the community comes together,” Parker said. “It’s a kick-off to spring. You can get your animals and little kids are playing. It’s just really nice to see.”

Parker noted that representatives from the Minnesota Board of Animal Health were at the swap to ensure all animals sold were disease-free.

Carlton’s second swap of the year is scheduled for 8-10 a.m. Sept 25.


Jacob and Elliott Cleveland try to attract a buyer for the farm-fresh eggs they brought to the Carlton Chicken Swap on Saturday, April 24, 2021. (Jamey Malcomb /

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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