A Bird’s Eye View of Tour de Cluck
Tour de Cluck Begins
The idea for a Davis, CA “Tour de Cluck” was hatched in 2010 as a fundraiser for the Davis Farm to School program, under the guidance of Mother Hen, Jake Clemens, who was then a member of the Steering Committee. Building on Davis’s reputation as “Bicycle Capital of the US,” plus residents’ concern for the environment, penchant for local food, and love of our feathered friends, Clemens came up with the concept of a city-wide bicycle tour of home-made, neighborhood chicken coops.
The idea caught on, and front-page headlines in the local newspaper the day after this inaugural tour declared it an “eggcellent” event. The first Tour de Cluck attracted over 500 people from the far reaches of the state, and as far afield as Santa Fe, New Mexico. Residents and visitors hopped on their bikes and meandered through the 16+ miles of “coop loops,” stopping to inspect the vast variety of coop styles and their feathered residents. At each stop, visitors were greeted by “coop docents” who enthusiastically held forth on the joys, trials and tribulations of raising chickens. Kids enjoyed being introduced to Hazel, a Rhode Island Red, Gertie, a Gold-laced Wyandotte, and Boss Lady, a Silver-laced Wyandotte, among the many who live in such esteemed digs as “Cluckingham Palace” or the “Copper-Top Kibbutz.”
Nor was the Tour the only attraction. The day began with community members stepping up to the microphone at the Davis Farmers Market and exhibiting their “Courage to Crow.” Crowers got certificates, and even the mayor strutted his stuff. In fact, he displayed a brood of “hens” (fans dressed out as chickens) who obligingly “laid eggs” for him right on the community green! Needless to say, local politicians saw this as a prime opportunity to crack jokes and make friends.
Other events included a chicken-themed art auction, an educational “Chicken Skool,” with lectures and workshops, and a “Fowl Food Fair” at the Market, where chefs prepared egg-themed dishes for market-goers to taste. In addition, local restaurants participated in the “Fowl Food Frolic” by featuring an egg-based dish for the weeks preceding the Tour de Cluck. The film “Mad City Chickens” that highlights backyard chickens and their owners was shown that evening. The tour celebrated local food and supported the school gardening, recycling and farm fresh food missions of Davis Farm to School. It was a true community event, and it raised over $20,000 for the Davis Farm to School Program.
By 2012, the success of Tour de Cluck attracted so much national attention that the New York Times wrote an article about the event. It seems that backyard chickens are becoming more and more common.
By 2013, Mother Hen had moved on, and the Tour de Cluck was taken on and coordinated by RoosterMeister Neil Ruud of The Centaur Group Media Company. In this year, the Tour de Cluck became a collaborative effort and was established to be a benefit for the Davis Art Center and the Davis Farm to School Program. The Davis Art Center took charge of the Art Auction, and Davis Farm to School took on the responsibilities of the tour itself, ticket selling, etc. Each year, the number of participants, both local and from out of town, has grown exponentially.
Tour de Cluck 2014 is under the leadership of Davis Farm to School and benefits its programs.
Links to stories about Tour de Cluck
DCTV interview with Mother Hen Jake Clemens and friends
(2013) Ann Evans’ hen that crowed and chocolate dipped macaroon recipe: Backyard chicken tales
Enterprise story about TdC 2013