Flapping her wings
A few lucky visitors on the first day of Musikfest spotted one of the true icons of the 10-day festival - the Chicken Lady. Some even had a chance to see the elusive hen perform her world famous Chicken Dance during a set with Joe Stanky and the Cadets. Why this rare sighting? In the person of Pat Holetz, who retired in 2004, the Chicken Lady agreed to ruffle her feathers for the first time in five years in commemoration of the 30th year of Musikfest.
The Chicken Lady was created in 1984 to personify the popular Chicken Dance played often by polka bands under the tent at Festplatz. The staff was looking for someone to wear the feathery costume for that year's Halloween parade, and Holetz, who was working in the Musikfest office as a volunteer, was asked to play the part.
"Costumes weren't really my thing, but I was so dedicated to Musikfest, I agreed," Holetz said.
That one appearance eventually became 20 years of clucking and flapping and wiggling. The Chicken Lady danced her way into everyone's hearts, becoming Musikfest's official ambassador.
"Being the Chicken Lady gave me an opportunity to be a representative of our community, and also part of one of the premier music festivals in the nation," Holetz said. "I enjoyed the interaction with people so much. Words can't describe how it made me feel."
In 2004, the Chicken Lady flew the coop for Florida, but Pat Holetz has come back every year since to work in some other capacity at Musikfest, becoming one of 24 individuals who have served as volunteers at all 30 events.