For 31 years, ostriches have experienced a revival of sorts in Chandler; they are featured all over the city as stuffed animals, colorful statues and stylish T-shirts. It’s all because of the Chandler Chamber Ostrich Festival, which pays homage to Chandler’s colorful early history of ostrich ranching. In 1914, there were 6,000 ostriches in the metro Phoenix area – 80 percent of the U.S. total, according to the Chandler Museum.
To celebrate the city’s ties with the big bird, the Chandler Chamber of Commerce created the Ostrich Festival in 1988. “It began when the chamber board was trying to come up with an event that would be special to Chandler, and ostriches filled the bill,” said Chamber Ostrich Festival Chairman, Ralph Guariglio. “So in essence, the festival really honors Dr. Chandler, the founder of Chandler as he owned one of the largest ostrich ranches in the valley.”
The event has become one of the premier festivals in the southwest attracting close to 100,000 attendees over three days of pure fun. Today, the Ostrich Festival is a family-friendly experience that has drawn national and regional entertainment, making it just as much a music festival as carnival atmosphere. Not to be missed are the exhilarating midway rides, fabulous food and upscale arts & crafts. The festival has won three Zonie Awards for the production of the three-day event.
Ostrich fun facts
- Ostriches cannot fly.
- The ostrich brain and eye are the same size.
- Ostrich skeletons and fossils have been found that date back over 120 million years; ostriches are a true dinosaur.
- Ostriches produce the strongest commercially available leather in the world and some of the most beautiful feathers.
- Ostrich meat is a red meat that is very low in cholesterol, calories and is almost fat free. Ostrich meat resembles beef in its appearance and is cooked almost the same way. Ostrich meat tastes just like … well, it tastes just like ostrich meat.
- Ostriches are not an endangered species; there are at least 2 million worldwide.
- When fully grown, an ostrich has one of the most advanced immune systems known to mankind.
- Ostriches can run at 45 miles per hour. They can maintain this speed for at least 30 minutes.
- Ostriches do not bury their head in the sand.
- Ostriches are an extremely resourceful species and are recognized as one of the only environmentally friendly animals in the world.
For more information on the Chandler Chamber Ostrich Festival, visit www.ostrichfestival.com.