Although at least one of the events will be changed because of the coronavirus pandemic, Ridgeland’s Winter Pioneer Day is scheduled to add its 39th annual edition this Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021.
The day’s activities will also include an event that – depending on who you talk to – continues to be a subject of fun or controversy – the “chicken fly.” At 12 noon Saturday, a crew of Pioneer Day volunteers will uncrate about 100 live chickens on the roof of a downtown Ridgeland commercial building and toss them into the air, to be caught by members of a crowd that – in years past – has averaged about 1,000 people (sometimes a lot more).
Demonstrators from the Madison area have been present to protest the event during at least three recent “chicken flies.” Animal rights activities have twice challenged the village of Ridgeland and event sponsors in court in an effort to stop the event. But a check of Dunn County Circuit Court records indicates no such legal action this year.
As mentioned in a story appearing in the News-Shield Jan. 27, the barbecue chicken and pork chop dinner will change from an indoor, sit-down affair to roadside pickup, to reduce the danger of COVID-19.
Instead, boxed dinners will be sold with pre-wrapped silverware and containers.
Other Saturday events are listed in an infographic that accompanies this story.
According to Ridgeland sources, Pioneer Day began in 1982 when local store owner, business leader and horse enthusiast Douglas Joel “Doug” Jorstad joined other volunteers to bring a horse drawn parade and other wintertime events to the village.
Previously, Pioneer Day was held in Prairie Farm, but after it was cancelled, Jorstad and the other volunteers agreed to move it to Ridgeland, according to local sources.