ROGUE RIVER — Why did the rooster cross the road? To get to Rogue River.
And despite the come-and-go rain, he had a great deal of company at the town's 59th annual Rooster Crow competition.
The Rooster Crow Celebration continues today in Rogue River. Highlights include:
Veterans and rookies alike descended on the event, intent on proving their bird could bring home the bacon by blasting out the most cock-a-doodle-doos in 30 minutes.
The top five crowers received cash prizes, with the winner clinching $150 — which is a lot of chicken scratch — and entrants could pull down an extra $100 if their rooster crowed more than 100 times, a commemoration of Rogue River's 100th birthday.
A newbie named George walked away with top honors this year, screeching 44 times,
"We have a plethora of chickens, so we decided to come on down and try it out," said owner Jason Duby of Merlin.
George stripped the title from Bye-Bye Bob, the two-time defending champion from 2010 and 2011, who belted out an impressive 63 crows both years.
Duby also entered 8-month-old Peanut, who caught a case of stage fright and barely made a sound.
The Rooster Crow record is still held by White Lightning of Gold Hill, the king of the Rogue River barnyard who cranked out 112 wake-up calls in 1978.
Several of the 41 contestants arrived in style. Cage designs ranged from giant rooster statues and patriotic red-white-and-blue splendor to cozy suburban quarters. Izzy, who belongs to Karen and Craig Gordon of Central Point, came in his own living room, which included a couch, end table and fireplace.
"That's his girlfriend," Karen Gordon said, pointing to the portrait of a chicken hanging above the fireplace.
But roosters weren't the only stars of the show.
The Human Crow Contest also drew a loud crowd. Dave Sager of Medford endured several elimination rounds and a final "crow-off" with last year's champion, Suzette Millican of Ashland, when the crowd crowned him king with their cheers.
It was the first attempt at crowing for Sager.
"In the first round, to hear the crowd cheer as loud as they did surprised me and actually gave me confidence that I could win it all," Sager said.
The trick, said Millican, is to find a balance between scratchiness and squeak.
"It takes practice," said Millican. "You've got to hang out with roosters a lot."
The festivities wrap up today with the Rooster Crow Car Show, a blacksmith demonstration at the Woodville Museum and vendor booths in the Umpqua Bank parking lot, 110 Pine St.
For information, call 541-582-4401 or see www.cityofrogueriver.org.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.