Mike the Headless Chicken Festival might be the oddest festival we’ve ever heard of, and once you hear the back story, it just keeps getting weirder.
From May 31 to June 1, the town of Fruita, Colorado, celebrates the life and times of a rooster named Mike who, by some miracle, was able to live without a head. At this festival, patrons can enjoy car shows, poultry shows, food vendors, a 5K run/walk, and a wing and Peep eating contest.
Wait, rewind a minute, you’re probably thinking. Go back and explain that headless chicken story.
If you’re the queasy type and don’t like stories of poor chickens getting kilt with a t, skip down a few paragraphs.
Our story begins in Fruita on Sept. 10, 1945, where a rooster, later named Mike, lived a humble life of pecking, crowing, and eating grain. That fateful September day, his owners, Lloyd and Clara Olsen, decided to make Mike their evening supper. During what was supposed to be a run-of-the-mill chicken murder, Lloyd grabbed his ax and went out to get Mike to join them for dinner. As Lloyd’s mother-in-law would be joining the couple and the neck was her favorite chicken part to eat (a little weird in our opinion), he made sure to position his blade in order to sever just the right amount of neck bone. Lloyd brought down his ax and in one quick movement, took off poor Mike’s head.
Mike wasn’t about to let this little traumatic event stop him from being alive, though.
This, dear readers, is where things get a little effed up.
He went back to his chicken hovel, preened his feathers, and pecked for his food like any other chicken. In fact, the next morning, when Lloyd went looking for Mike, he found him sleeping with his head under his wing.
That is when Lloyd had a change of heart for this poor guy and decided that if Mike was that much of a badass, he was gonna find a way to help him live. He fed and watered Mike with an eyedropper, then, after a week of still being alive without a head, Lloyd took him on a road trip on over to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. The curious scientists studied Mike and found that the ax had missed Mike’s jugular vein and a clot formed to miraculously protect him from bleeding out. In fact, it turned out that most of his brain stem and one ear still remained on Mike.
Guys. He lived for 18 MONTHS.
Throughout the rest of his life, he was given multiple names, like The Headless Wonder Chicken and Miracle Mike. He even got a talent manager and went on a national tour, where fans came to pay 25 cents to see the famous rooster. He was featured in Life and Time magazines and the Guinness World Record. He was valued at $10,000 and even insured.
Unfortunately, Mike’s strange life eventually came to an end at a motel in an Arizona desert during one of his many road trips with the Olsens after he choked to death. However, his badassery lives on and that, y’all, is why this small Colorado town still celebrates the life of Mike 74 years later.