Music City Hot Chicken Festival Turns Up the Heat This Year

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If it's July 4, it must be time for hot chicken! This year's edition of the Music City Hot Chicken Festival promises to be bigger and better than ever, and the weather forecast looks like it may very well cooperate this year.

The festivities kick off with the Hot Chicken Festival Fire Truck Parade. Kiddies will love watching the engines parade with their sirens blaring down Woodland Street starting at 11 a.m. at Woodland Street and South Eighth. The procession will end at the East Park Community Center, the headquarters of the festival. Scheduled to participate are several antique fire trucks, The Half Brass Band, Yazoo Brew and a vintage hearse.

New Nashville favorite hot chicken spot Hattie B's will join the roster of vendors offering free samples to the first 500 attendees. That brings the number of hot chicken vendors to six. To facilitate watching the parade, this year the free chicken distribution has been moved to the Woodland Street side of East Park so you can be entertained while you wait in line.

There will definitely be more than just hot chicken to nosh on with a long list of dining options:

Prince's Hot Chicken Shack
Hattie B's Hot Chicken
Bolton's Spicy Chicken & Fish
400 Degrees
Pepperfire Hot Chicken
Smack Your Mama Chicken
B&C BBQ
East Side Fish
Drunken Taco
The Peach Truck
Yazoo Brewery
Pied Piper Creamery
Smokin' Thighs
Biscuit Love
The Lemon Spot
RetroSno

In another first, the boys from Porter Road Butcher will be selling food in the beer tent, so you might want to set up your lawn chairs somewhere close to that location.

The highlight of the festival is the Amateur Cooking Contest. Six teams will compete for the title of Spicemeister, with cooking kicking off at 12:30. They are also competing for a wonderfully kitschy trophy and a deep-fryer when the winner is announced at 2 p.m. from the main stage.

Festival organizers have shared the lineup of cheftestants for 2013:

#1 Great Birds of Fire: Inspired by both Jerry Lee Lewis and Nashville’s signature dish, team captain Bud Friley proclaimed in his application: “…as long as ‘The Killer’ keeps on rockin', I'm gonna keep on fryin' up Hot Chicken till I hit number one.”

#2 Abombs Chicken V2: Team captain Aaron Burton writes to the selection committee: “After suffering a devastating defeat in 2011, Abombs Chicken V2 comes back with a whole new recipe that will light the judges on fire. Redemption is in the air and its name is Abombs Chicken V2.”

#3 Team Savannah: Ian Lester of Team Savannah writes “Dear great leaders that oversee Hot Chicken Nation…… We are new to Nashville, but come from the Deep South (Savannah, GA) where fried chicken is a science. That being said, we have really enjoyed the Nashville Hot Chicken tradition and look forward to taking part in the city’s own July 4 celebration of liberty, independence and HOT CHICKEN!”

#4: Hicks Factor: Stephanie Hicks writes: “We have been practicing on perfecting our chicken and we KNOW our chicken will be bursting with flavor and set your mouth on fire!…..Our friends and family that have tried our chicken usually breakout in a sweat due to the hotness of our chicken, but they continue to eat it because the chicken is so good!”

#5 Atomic Yardbirds: Brian Jackson, team captain, writes “We are a fraternity of men bound by the love of the bird, the heat, and the sharing of the Hot Chicken. We cook Hot Chicken for friends, each other, and ourselves. From sharing recipe tips to comparing the best sides from our favorite Hot Chicken establishments to growing our own chili peppers, we really enjoy every aspect of the Hot Chicken.

#6 Crazy Mike's Hot Chicken: Team Captain Michael True writes “I truly believe that it is meant for me to be in the hot chicken business and with this amateur win, it will show Nashville that Crazy Mike's Hot Chicken is worthy of joining the ranks of top hot chicken shacks in the area!.....Thanks and I’m looking forward to holding that trophy.”

For parking and public transportation options, check out the event website. Festival proceeds benefit the Friends of Shelby Park & Bottoms, so join honorary festival chairs Bill Purcell, Diane Neighbors and Andre Prince in this unique Nashville tradition and kick your July Fourth off right!

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