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Music City Hot Chicken Festival is bringing the heat

The 18th annual foodie event celebrating all things hot chicken returns to Nashville’s East Park on Thursday, July 4.

A food basket lined with red and white checkered paper with a piece of hot chicken, star-shaped bread, pickles, and an American flag pick.

The hot chicken fest is an Independence Day tradition. | Photo via Music City Hot Chicken Festival

The Music City Hot Chicken Festival is almost here, and this year’s lineup is looking extra hot.

Hosted annually on the Fourth of July, the free-to-attend celebration kicks off with a parade before taking over East Park (700 Woodland St.) with hot chicken, live entertainment, and an amateur cooking competition. Let’s get a taste of the fiery festivities.

Fire truck parade

The festival’s signature kickoff event is led by former mayor Bill Purcell, followed by a host of vintage fire trucks (plus a few modern ones), marching bands, mascots throwing beads, and more. The parade departs from the corner of Woodland Street and 9th Street at 10:30 a.m.

Four people lined up behind a table placing hot chicken in baskets to be served.

Have your preferred spice level in mind? | Photo via Music City Hot Chicken Festival

The main attraction

This year, the 18th annual Hot Chicken Festival Amateur Cooking Competition makes a spicy comeback to the festival site after a stint at the Nashville Farmers Market. Watch five teams battle it out at 11:30 a.m., followed by judging at 12:30 p.m. and the winner announcement at 1:30 p.m. Aside from watching the hot chicken showdown, attendees can purchase hot chicken from the following vendors.

  • Chicken Shack Express
  • Eugene’s Hot Chicken
  • Hattie B’s
  • Hurt’s Hot Chicken
  • Momma Joy’s Hot Chicken + More
  • Nashville Chicken & Waffles
  • Party Fowl
  • Prince’s Hot Chicken
  • Slow Burn

Plus, order food and drinks from Yazoo Brewery, The Loveless Cafe, Retro Sno, The Lemon Spot, and Buns on the Run.
Pro tip: Check out the FAQ page before your visit for a list of prohibited items and other need-to-knows.

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