We tried something new this month: attending the Ostrich Festival! This is a one-of-a-kind event with a fun mixture of events, shows, rides, vendors and more that has been the pride of Chandler since 1989. Here are our top 10 reasons to mark your calendars to attend this festival.
1. It’s good, clean family fun! There is something for everyone, young and old. Take the babies, the teenagers, the grandparents — everyone will find something to make them smile. Plus kids 4 and under are free!
2. The petting zoo was unique and kept our kids occupied for a good 20 minutes. How often do you get to pet a camel? Or see a wallaby up close? You can pay a couple dollars to get a cup of feed to offer the animals too. We also got treated to see day old baby piglets!
3. Why is it called the Ostrich Festival? For the Ostrich races of course! (And here is more history behind ostriches in Arizona.) It’s pretty amusing, and getting to see these unique (and intense!) birds up close is something your child will always remember. There are also other animals races, like camel and zebra, plus a separate pig race to enjoy.
4. All the food! Seriously, there’s just so much fried goodness, and classics like popcorn and corn dogs, and amazing BBQ. If you’re up for an adventure, try an ostrich burger or jerky, or other exotic meats. We opted for some shave ice as a treat and were not disappointed.
5. New in 2017 at the festival was a high dive show, an area to play with drones, and a trampoline show! We hope they keep these entertainers, and add more for next year.
6. For our ages of kids (5 and under), it was great to have a separate area of rides and activities they could do without competing with the crowds of the main carnival. Our two year old was even tall enough to go on a ride with no adult, which made his day! Favorites with our group included the rocking ship, the roller coaster, a water boat, and the classic carousel.
7. If you need a break from the rides, there are some great shows to catch, some under tents which help with the intense sunshine. Watch as dogs catch flying frisbees! Storytime for kids goes live with favorite book characters, like Curious George, making an appearance. And there’s a cowboy who performs rope tricks, knife throws and more. If animal rides are your interest, there were camels and ponies available for a small fee.
8. Kudos to the parking attendants and organization! We’ve been to events where traffic was piled up for hours (no joke!) but parking at the Ostrich Festival was clearly marked, a decent $5/car and attendants were helpful and friendly. This goes a long way to be inviting to new families like us.
9. Concerts are included with the price of admission! Check the schedule for when your favorite group will be performing.
10. Races and shows repeat on an average of 3 times all day. So if you can only make it in the afternoon, you’re guaranteed to see your favorites at least once during your stay. We recommend checking the map and schedule when you first arrive. Our kids did well with alternating shows with rides and snacks.
For more information, check out the official Ostrich Festival website. The 2018 dates have not been announced, but traditionally the festivities are held in mid-March, Friday-Sunday.