The First Egg Day Parade
Petalumans know that when you travel outside of Sonoma County and tell someone that you’re from Petaluma, the next question often is, “Isn’t that the place that has a chicken parade?”
Chickens are just the beginning
It’s true – Petaluma does have an egg-centric past. Today, we relish sharing the many other characteristics that make Petaluma such a vibrant and special place – the community’s commitment to preserving our rich heritage, our makers who produce handcrafted cheese, brews and spirits, and talented chefs who use the bounty from local farms and ranches to create award-winning dishes – just to name a few of our claims to fame beyond the “World’s Egg Basket.”
Proud of our past
But there’s one day every year that we crack open the shells from the egg basket of our past and fully embrace Petaluma’s prominent place in poultry production. That’s the day of the Butter & Egg Days Parade and Festival (usually held on the last Saturday of April; tentatively planned for the fall of 2021). Though it’s been more than 100 years since the first Egg Day Parade, each year is a new opportunity for the community to revel in the historic, significant and sometimes quirky facts that represent Petaluma’s connection to poultry.
Eggs and more eggs
Bert Kerrigan’s slogan for Petaluma as the “World’s Egg Basket” sounds like a hyperbolic claim created by a slick promoter, but there was actually a lot of truth in the statement. With a population of about 6,000 in 1918, Petaluma claimed chicken farms producing 450 million eggs annually. Do the math, and that’s 75,000 eggs per year for every man, woman and child.
According to The History of Petaluma by Adair Heig, “No notion was too preposterous or too undignified if it helped promote the egg industry. Kerrigan took a 15 x 5-foot basket filled with fresh Petaluma eggs to a street corner in downtown San Francisco and invited newsreel companies to film it. His final touch was to release live chicks in to the crowd.” How times have changed.
Harkening back a hundred years
The Egg Queen and her court of chicks led the 1918 Egg Day Parade. There were chicken-picking and egg-laying contests instead of “Cutest Chick” and “Cow Chip Throwing” contests. But when one of Kerrigan’s projects went way over budget in the late 1920s, the Chamber lost faith in him and the parade lapsed until 1982 when downtown business promoters brought it back.
Thanks to the PDA
For the past 37 years, the Butter & Egg Days Parade has been produced by the Petaluma Downtown Association. The event brings 25,000 people into downtown, many of whom are from out of town and are experiencing historic Petaluma for the first time.
Though Petaluma is no longer the World’s Egg Basket, we honor our poultry past. So invite you to join us in fall of 2021 (date TBA) to cheer our chicken parade!