The story behind the longest running festival in Oklahoma

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Posted: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 11:29 am | Updated: 4:43 pm, Wed Apr 9, 2014.

Well-before the days of technological convenience for farmers, attracting egg producers into “town” and keeping randy-roosters calm after the spring hatching season was quite a chore in the early 1930s.

The solution?

“In 1932, the Chamber of Commerce came up with ‘Rooster Day in May’ to lure farmers into town,” according to information from Roberta Jean Parker.

Parker passed away Jan. 1, 2012. She was a hometown historian who, through research, became the definitive expert on Rooster Days. From the 1970s through 2007 she was a reporter and paid-correspondent for the Daily Ledger.

“Rooster Day was designed to help farmers get rid of the rooster to improve egg quality,” wrote Parker in the Oct. 13, 2002, Centennial Edition of the Broken Arrow Daily Ledger.

Ridding the roost of the rooster was part of the solution, but environmental conditions in the 1930s were an additional impetus in the festival’s origin.

People who raised chickens during the time period immediately preceding the dust bowl were acutely aware fertilized eggs spoil quickly in the spring and summer, compared to fall and winter, given no refrigeration.

One either got their eggs to market quickly or risked losing income.

But why the need to rid the roost of the rooster?

Well for one, prior to modern commercial artificial insemination techniques, a rooster was needed to fertilize each hen.

Things for the rooster were “great” until the hen laid her clutch of eggs. Once the clutch hatched during the spring, hens were more concerned with brooding – watching over their chicks –  then mating.

A member of the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce hatched a novel-idea.

Leo S. Wortman, former secretary manager of the chamber and the vocational-agriculture instructor at Broken Arrow High School, is credited with being the brainchild of establishing a special day for farmers to bring to market their excess roosters.

“The first Rooster Day, poultry houses purchased 1,350 pounds of roosters at premium prices,” Parker said, “and merchants ran special sales to entice shoppers into their stores.”

Rooster Day worked in 1932 and the modern Rooster Days Festival continues to remain a popular, annual event to which area residents and merchants look forward.

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