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Get up close and personal with the chickens this weekend at Garden of Eve. (Credit: Paul Squire)
Get up close and personal with the chickens this weekend at Garden of Eve. (Credit: Paul Squire)

It wasn’t until the third or fourth peck to my leg by the curious clucking and cooing swarm of chickens gathered around me that I began to see the charm in ‘Chickapalooza.’ 

Sure, there was the live music, the workshops on how to raise chickens, tend to a homemade garden and learn the basics of beekeeping, as well as bread and sauce vendors lined up along the path at Garden of Eve on Sound Avenue in Riverhead. You could even tour where the chickens live, and meet the farm’s two fluffy guard dogs — Casper and Milano — who guard the flock.

Garden of Eve’s owner, Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht, had told me the farm would get calls every few days from people asking if they could learn more about chickens. Three years ago, she dreamed up the two-day event to introduce those people to the craft.

Raising chickens, she said, is a lot less intimidating than it seems.

“It’s not really much more work than a potted plant,” Ms. Kaplan-Walbrecht said. “They need food, water and a safe place to sleep at night away from the raccoons.”

For less work than owning a dog, you also get a savory payday: fresh eggs.

“It’s like a pet with dividends,” she joked.

Seven-year-old Ian Bae of Forest Hills holds up an egg he found in the chicken's pen while on tour Saturday afternoon. Ian and his family said they go on trips like these every weekend to get out of the city. (Credit: Paul Squire)
Seven-year-old Ian Bae of Forest Hills holds up an egg he found in the chicken’s pen while on tour Saturday afternoon. Ian and his family said they go on trips like these every weekend to get out of the city. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Until I knelt down near the pens Saturday afternoon as the chickens waddled back and forth, weaving in between the other people on the tour, I couldn’t see how raising chickens could be so popular. I had been stuck in the mindset Eve described, where the chickens were farm animals and were only fit for other farmers.

But, for some reason, I felt a little affinity for the goofy birds after a while. Sure, they smelled a bit rank, and the grounds were a minefield of droppings, but the chickens were — dare I say it — kind of cute.

On Sunday, the farm was planning a new set of seminars about how to raise chickens, and was even holding a competition to find the most beautiful and best behaved bird of the bunch. The farm would also have chicks and grown chickens for sale.

I may end up going back.

Chickapalooza will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Garden of Eve on Sound Avenue. The “chicken showmanship” show will kick off at 1:30 p.m., with tours of the grounds every hour.

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