Fort St James- A new batch of chickens started racing last month at the Fort St. James National Historic Site.
The historic site bought the Light Brahmas in March and the coup of 23 racers started training June 1, said Rene Leidl, acting product development and visiting experience officer.
“Every two years we get a new batch because once they start laying their not really keen on racing anymore,” said Ms. Leidl.
The former Hudson’s Bay Company fur-trading post is now home to an interactive exhibit showcasing life in the 1800s. Daily chicken races have become an imbedded part of the site’s culture and started five years ago as a way of entertaining tourists and guests. Although this type of sport is not authentic to the time period, horse racing and betting is, said Terri-Ann Houghton, one of the site’s period dressed historic interpreters.
“The fact they are chickens is just for pure entertainment purposes,” said Ms. Houghton.
Enticed with ginger snap cookies, the chickens are lined up in the coup and a countdown alerts them of their duty. Each onlooker is given a ‘chicken buck’ to bet with and five heats allow each chicken a chance at glory. The people with winning bets receive a souvenir button which affirms they chose a winning chicken.
A new brace of ducks have also been recently welcomed at the site but the birds can not be trained until they are at least six-weeks-old.
“They are actually better racers than the chickens,” said Ms. Leidl. “But they are only four-and-a-half weeks right now.”
Chicken races are every day at 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. during special events. For more info, call the Fort St. James National Historic Site at 250-996-7191.