The Ostrich Festival that kicked off Friday night was Chandler’s 15 th, but there was nothing status quo about it.
Instead of heading to the city’s historic downtown, festivalgoers went to Tumbleweed Park at Germann and McQueen roads, and paid up to $3 to participate in this celebration of a longago ostrich farm operated by one of Chandler’s founding fathers.
And, of course, there were no ostriches, since the state imposed a quarantine and banned all transportation of poultry in response to an outbreak of a virus that can be deadly to most birds.
"The biggest thing that’s affecting it is the Newcastle virus," said Bob Tanenbaum of Las Vegas, who has hawked his computerized fortune teller and custom-made toe rings at a number of festivals.
He said he liked the spacious new setting at the park, though he admitted there could be a drawback to putting this tent city in the park’s wide-open space: "We don’t have big buildings and if the wind hits it’s going to be hell," he said.
Briar Duley of Apache Junction had a problem with the new $3 gate fee.
"I think it’s terrible that you have to pay to get in. People spend enough money here as it is," she said.
Ron Evans, chairman of the festival’s board, said Friday evening the organizers hadn’t run into any major glitches in moving the festival to its new site, and was grateful to get it off the ground when just months ago it appeared it might move to Gilbert or not happen at all.
Where: Tumbleweed Park, 2250 S. McQueen Road, Chandler
When: 10 a.m. to midnight today; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday.
Cost: $3 for adults, $2 for seniors, $1 ages 5-12