ZINZINNATI — Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight champion and Cincinnati-native Rich Franklin will lead thousands of partyin’ poultry in the World’s Largest Chicken Dance. The carousing will take place at noon on Sunday, Sept. 19 on historic Fountain Square in Downtown Zinzinnati.F
“Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati has long been regarded as the largest Oktoberfest celebration in North America and the second largest in the world,” said Patrick Sheeran, vice president with the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. “But in the long and storied history of the event, we have never had a tougher chicken dancer.”
After receiving a degree from the University of Cincinnati in mathematics, Franklin taught at the Oak Hills High School. But he soon entered the world of ultimate fighting, winning his first professional bout in 1999. Through his career, Franklin has amassed a 28-5 record, most recently defeating Chuck Liddell by knockout at UFC 115 in June.
He co-founded the Keep It in The Ring Foundation to advocate non-violence and build character in youth, and also starred in the second season of Spike TV’s hit television series “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Prior to leading the Chicken Dance, Franklin will sign autographs and take pictures with fans starting at 11:00 a.m. at Fountain Square.
Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati showcases the rich German heritage of Zinzinnati USA. More than half-a-million herren und frauen will converge on a six-block area to eat, sing, mingle, sport lederhosen, listen to polka music, try to speak German and perform the Chicken Dance. The event will feature five stages showcasing continuous live German music, more than 40 food and drink vendors and more than 800 barrels of beer— roughly the annual capacity of some popular microbreweries.
Franklin joins an all-star cast of celebrities who have served as the grand marshal of Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati. In 1994, the Crown Prince of Bavaria attended Oktoberfest- Zinzinnati and helped the event set a world record for the World’s Largest Chicken Dance, with 48,000 participating according to Guinness Book of Records.
In 1998 Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati tuned up to set a world record for the World’s Largest Musical Ensemble. The late, great trumpeter Al Hirt, a 1941 graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, returned to his musical roots to lead 25,000 in a magical interpretation of his trademark song, When The Saints Go Marching In.
In 1999, Grammy Award-winner Weird Al Yankovic led 30,000 on kazoo in a rendition of the Chicken Dance and Beer Barrel Polka. The event was featured on CNN Headline News and VH1’s “Rock-n-Roll Record-breakers.” And in 2000, The The Monkees’ Davy Jones provided a goose bump moment leading the World’s Largest Chicken Dance and a rendition of Daydream Believer.
In 2001, Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati was postponed due to the attack on America on Sept. 11. A week following, American patriot and singer Tony Orlando led a throng on Fountain Square in inspiring renditions of Tie A Yellow Ribbon ’Round The Old Oak Tree and America. In 2002, Verne Troyer, a.k.a. Mini Me, cast a big shadow leading the Chicken Dance. Vince Neil, lead vocalist for the legendary rock group Mötley Crüe, led the 2004 World’s Largest Chicken Dance, an event so surreal VH1 named it the “Least Metal Moment” in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. In 2006 and 2007, local sports icons, Bengals All-Pro wide receiver Chad Johnson and the “Ol’ Lefthander” Joe Nuxhall strutted their tail feathers. Last year, two of America’s favorite barflies, Homer Simpson and George Wendt, “Norm” from Cheers, let a spirited rendition.
In his book, Party Across America! 101 of the Greatest Festivals, Sporting Events, and Celebrations in the U.S., author Michael Guerriero said of Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati, “Cincy has taken the Oktoberfest celebration to another level. The greatest Oktoberfest in the United States and one of the best food festivals I've ever attended. Long picnic tables line the tents, and polka musicians fill the air with their spirited notes. Hop from tent to tent, watch live entertainment along the way, and sample the delicacies of Oktoberfest.”
Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati USA, presented by Samuel Adams, is the largest Oktoberfest
celebration in the country and the second largest in the world. Known as America’s
Oktoberfest, the event will be held Saturday, Sept. 18 and Sunday, Sept. 19, with a
sneak peak on Friday, Sept. 17,along six blocks of Fifth Street in Downtown
Zinzinnati. Hours are 11 a.m. to midnight on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday. Admission is free.
For more information, visit http://www.OktoberfestZinzinnati.com, our fan page on Facebook or follow tweets @CincinnatiParty or using the #chickendance hashtag.