For 30 years ostriches have experienced a revival of sorts in Chandler; they are featured all over the city be it as stuffed animals, colorful statues or stylish T-shirts. It is all because of the Chandler Chamber Ostrich Festival. The festival began in 1988 based on 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.
In 1988 to celebrate the city’s ties with the big bird, the Chandler Chamber of Commerce created the Ostrich Festival. “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 the larges 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 featuring live ostriches and ostrich-themed activities. The event 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 and crafts.
The kickoff weekend is the weekend before the festival itself and offers the Mayor’s Fun Run, colorful Ostrich Festival Parade and community events. For additional information on the Chandler Chamber Ostrich Festival, visit www.ostrichfestival.com.Ostrich fun facts•Ostriches cannot fly.
- The ostrich brain is as big as the ostrich eye.
- Ostrich skeletons and fossils have been found dating back over 120 million years; ostriches are true dinosaurs.
- Ostriches produce the strongest commercially available leather in the world and some of the most beautiful feathers.
- Ostrich meat is a red meat and is very low in cholesterol, calories and is almost fat free. The 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.