“I know Chicken, and you are DEFINITELY not from Chicken!”
It was that outlandish claim that prodded festival coordinator Josea Busby to dream up what is now fondly known—and often incites a smirk and giggles—as Chickenstock.
Busby was helping out at the end of the Iditarod dogsled race in Nome in 2007 when she discovered a bluegrass band in town. She was watching the band when she received the aforementioned accusation that questioned her “Chicken-ness.” The wheels started cranking, and right there in Nome a festival was hatched. Such irony is the zany weirdness that thrives in remote Alaska—Busby would know.
While the Chickenstock Music Festival has humble beginnings, it is now a high-energy summer event celebrating music on Top of the World. Every June the double-digit population swells to more than 1,000 adventuresome, fun-loving music enthusiasts who gather from mostly Alaska and the Yukon, but also from foreign lands. The raucous, but family friendly crowd dances, sings along, and hula hoops the weekend away.
Of course, who can forget our bands that take center stage each year—it wouldn’t be much of a concert without them! While we love to familiarize folks with our tiny coop in Alaska’s interior, we also love showcasing the extreme musical talent of our bands that primarily come from in-state. Many thanks to the musicians who have graced our stage through the years!
More than a dozen bands—some bluegrass, some country-ish, some a bit bluesy, some folksy, some nondescript and some more bluegrass—take the stage on two vintage WWII trucks that have been joined together ass-to-ass, while Chicken Air flies overhead and drops 1,500 marshmallow Peeps (yes, the kind you put in your kid’s Easter basket) while attendees attempt to relive their sixth-grade selves and remember all the moves to the “Chicken Dance.”
As intended, Chickenstock isn’t just a music festival—it is a spotlight that shines on the map-dot town of Chicken and its 17 hardy residents (yes, that’s a whole 10 more people than Google claims!)
Chickenstock is staffed by a migratory but loyal and hard-working “Event Flock,” led by the fearless “head hen” herself—Josea. Along with her parents, Mike and Lou Busby, and Anthony Sandoval, the hardest working rooster around, Josea wrangles a fearless bunch of flockers every year to volunteer their time and make Chickenstock rock.
None of this could have taken flight without the help of our loyal and dedicated flock. You know who they are (Hint: They usually run around in matching t-shirts.) But, they do so much more than rock tie dye and referee stripes well; our flock keeps Chickenstock (and the beer) flowing. We are incredibly grateful for this team that has grown from 5 to 50 volunteers over the last 13 years.
Chicken Gold Camp / Mining History
The mud, sweat and beers that go into making Chickenstock a reality every year is an ode to the gold miners of old who first laid stake to this region in Alaska’s interior. The Pedro Dredge, which found a home in Chicken some years ago is a behemoth of a reminder. The relentless work ethic of gold miners continues to sustain the community, as well as the festival, to this day.