Nancy Perryman of Wimer gives it her all during Human Crow competition last year. She did not win. - Jim Craven

The 55th Rooster Crow

It seemed like a fun thing to do on an afternoon back in 1953. Since then, the Rogue River Rooster Crow has grown to three days of fun that include the National Human Crow contest, parade, a classic car show, a quilt show, entertainment, arts and crafts and food. The weekend is sponsored by the Rogue River Chamber of Commerce

This year's theme is "Bridges to Crow About" and the celebrations take place Friday through Sunday, June 27-29. Things get started with a barbecue dinner from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Community Center. Live music will be provided from 6:30 to 10 p.m. by the local rock 'n' roll band MTV at the Woodville Museum bandstand on the corner of First and Oak streets.

Saturday morning begins at 8 a.m. with a 5K run and 2-mile walk at Beck Field. Then the Rooster Crow Parade heads through downtown starting at 10 a.m. Entries will gather at Rogue River Shopping Center parking lot from 8 to 10 a.m. The event has been described as an old-time, small-town parade and jamboree. After the parade there will be a host of activities, arts and crafts, food booths and an area for children from 9 a.m. to dusk.

The Piecemakers Quilt Show will be on display from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Rogue River Middle School. Noah's Play World will entertain the young folk from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Joe Holiday will perform from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Woodville Museum bandstand.

The National Human Crow contest is slated for 2 p.m. Saturday at the Rogue River Elementary School field. Then at 2:30 p.m., it's time for the real pros when the Rooster Crow event gets under way. Farmers from all over Oregon and Northern California bring their roosters to crow to enthusiastic crowds. The rooster with the most crows in 30 minutes wins.

There will be a free concert of live music featuring TJ and the Spurs Country Band at 3:30 p.m. at the Woodville Museum bandstand.

The eighth annual Rooster Crow Car Show starts at 8 a.m. Sunday. Those wishing to participate can register from 8 to 11 a.m. Cars will be on display at Rogue River Elementary school until 3 p.m. There will be awards and door prizes. And if you missed seeing the Piecemakers Quilt Show, you can catch the exhibit from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Rogue River Middle School.

The city of Rogue River has held a Rooster Crow Contest every year since 1953. In April of that year, a group of merchants calling themselves the "Rogue River Booster Club" met to consider a proposal submitted by one of its members, Shade Coombs. Coombs and the other club members were looking for ways to publicize and promote their town. Coombs had read a story about coal miners in Wales who held rooster-crowing contests during the holidays.

The club took up Shade's idea and set aside funds for a cash prize to the owner of the rooster that crowed the most within a 30-minute period.

On May 23, 1953, the first Rooster Crow was staged on the streets of the city, marking the start of the annual event that now draws thousands of people to Rogue River on the last Saturday in June.

The winner of the first crowing event was Hollerin' Harry. He crowed 71 times and won his owner $50. A second contest was held Sept. 5 of the same year with the prize money of $100 going to Beetle Baum, who managed 109 crows in the 30-minute period. Beetle Baum remained champion for 25 years. The closest any rooster came to dethroning him was in 1959 when Sandy crowed 96 times. In the 1978 contest, a cocky rooster by the name of White Lightning topped Beetle Baum's record with 112 crows in 30 minutes.

White Lightning's closest competitor was Crow Baby, who came in second with 63 crows. No one knows the secrets that encourage a rooster to crow, but White Lightning's owner, Willie Beck of Gold Hill, said it was simple. "I just kept him away from any other roosters or chickens for six weeks before the contest and brought him to the contest in a large sack."

However, the secret may have been in the person of Dr. Mabel Bryant, who stood before his cage flapping her arms and cheering him on to spectacular achievements. According to the good doctor, "We were communicating with each other!"

For more information, contact the Rogue River Chamber of Commerce at 582-0242.

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