The Best Hot Chicken Festival In Nashville

Take heart, hot chicken fans – there is an alternative to the July 4 Nashville Hot Chicken Festival that is WAY MORE FUN

You may have checked out my previous article where I opined that the Nashville Hot Chicken Festival held each July 4 weekend in East Nashville is a colossal waste of time.

Take heart, hot chicken fans – there is an alternative event that is WAY MORE FUN – and as an added bonus, it’s a fundraiser for the Predators Foundation.

I’m referring to Hot Shots! Hot Chicken, Whiskey and Bourbon Festival scheduled for Friday evening, October 21 at Bridgestone Arena. When I tell you that, for $70 a ticket, you get unlimited samples from the most popular Nashville Hot Chicken joints in town, and unlimited tastings (well, limited only by your sense of propriety) from regional and national distilleries – well, I really shouldn’t have to tell you anything else. But I will! Because your ticket also gets you into the exclusive Viewing Party as the Nashville Predators play the Detroit Red Wings that evening. And, if all that wasn’t enough, your ticket also gets you to pick a future Preds game to attend at Bridgestone Arena. BOOM!

If you are into Nashville Hot Chicken and Predators hockey, but want to attend this with your kids or just don’t want alcohol, you should know that there is an option for that, and it’s just $50. (These prices are “early bird” rates that just last through tomorrow – not sure how much they’ll go up after that, but I would seriously consider attending this event even if you have to pay more.)

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Last year’s inaugural Hot Shots! Hot Chicken, Whiskey and Bourbon Festival was held the afternoon of August 1. Moving the event to an evening in October means that attendees will also get to participate in a watch party as the Predators take on the Red Wings in Detroit.

A Pull-Out-All-The-Stops Weekend of Concerts and Fun in Nashville

This weekend, even the most cynical and tourist-weary Nashvillian would find something going on worth braving the heat and the crowds.

I think sometimes I give my readers the wrong impression. In this blog, I rarely talk about big concerts and haven’t yet mentioned having fun at the downtown honky-tonks. Well, that is about to change…because this weekend (July 30 – August 2) is crammed full of epic concerts and other stuff to do downtown. Even the most cynical and tourist-weary local would find something going on worth braving the heat and the crowds. (Truthfully, I spend a lot of time downtown attending concerts. But almost no time in the honky-tonks!)

Thursday night marks the last weekly concert of the 2015 Bluegrass at the Ryman series; Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder are sure to bring the season to a foot-stompin’ close. This is not new music, but these sweet songs require a level of technical prowess that transcends generations. If we’re lucky, songstress Sharon White (of The Whites, aka Mrs. Ricky Skaggs) will grace the stage for a song or three; she’s been seen flat-footing in the aisles when she’s not on stage, so she’s sure to entertain either way! Tickets are an unheard-of bargain at less than $30, thanks to sponsorship by Springer Mountain Farms Chicken. (Season tickets for next year typically go on sale immediately after the last concert of the season – plan ahead and you’ll be rewarded with six Thursday night concerts in 2016.)

There is an event on Friday night that already has me star struck. I’m so excited that I can barely think of anything else. Because on Friday – at The Ryman – I am going to see one of the hugest songwriting talents, who is also an incredible singer, and funny, and gorgeous – Dolly Parton! I don’t have great seats or anything, but I don’t care. There are a couple of other big concerts in town Friday night (Eric Church in the inaugural concert at Ascend Amphitheater, and Shania Twain at the Bridgestone Arena), but I didn’t have a moment’s hesitation choosing.

I was ordering at Big Shake’s Hot Chicken & Fish (as seen on Shark Tank) today when I picked up a flyer that looked interesting – advertising the inaugural Hot Shots 2015 Hot Chicken, Whiskey and Bourbon Festival on Saturday, August 1 at Bridgestone Arena. I was shocked that I hadn’t previously heard one thing about this fundraiser for the Nashville Predators Foundation. Never mind that I missed out on early bird pricing, I still think that $65 ($70 at the door) per person for unlimited whiskey & bourbon tasting, hot chicken provided by 12 different local vendors, a souvenir glass and a ticket voucher for a 2015-2106 Predators game represents a pretty good deal. For those who won’t be tasting whiskey, a chicken-only ticket costs $20 less. The festival runs from 1pm to 5pm.

How fortunate that I’ll already be downtown on Saturday evening – I can just take a leisurely stroll of about 4 blocks (perhaps stopping in for refreshment at Acme Feed & Seed – “the honky tonk for locals”) to attend the Chicago/Earth Wind & Fire concert at Ascend Amphitheater. For this tour, I’m told that both bands will share the stage at the end of the concert. I predict that may be the precise moment when my head explodes. Hopefully I can keep it together enough to catch my rideshare home.

I already know that Sunday is going to need to be a “chill” day, so fortunately I’ve got some low-energy options lined up. First, brunch at Le Peep Grille in Belle Meade (thanks to a Groupon I purchased several weeks ago). Then, I’ll prepare to “get my Zen on” at the Nashville Pond Society’s Parade of Ponds, featuring backyard ponds in East Nashville, Inglewood and Madison. Home again, to reflect on the awesomeness that is life in Nashville, rejoice that I live in this fine city, and begin planning another weekend that Sounds Like Fun.

Icepocalypse in Nashville – 5 things to do when the Mayor says “stay put!”

This week, Nashville got a good layer of ice, followed by an inch or two of snow, followed by bitterly cold temperatures and biting winds. Our mayor cautioned everyone to stay home if possible. Here are five fresh suggestions for sheltering-in-place during Nashville’s 2015 Icepocalypse!

It’s no joke that Nashville doesn’t excel at Winter. Each year around November, when the night time temperatures dip slightly below freezing, the local news airs warnings on how to keep pipes from freezing and protect your pets in cold weather. With the slightest hint of oncoming winter weather, schools close and grocery stores supplies of milk and bread are depleted. But Nashville hasn’t really had any measurable snowfall for four years. Until this week. This week, Nashville got a good layer of ice, followed by an inch or two of snow, followed by bitterly cold temperatures and biting winds. Our mayor cautioned everyone to stay home if possible…and, since many events are canceled and schools are closed, a lot of people are heeding that advice! Here are five fresh suggestions for sheltering-in-place during Nashville’s 2015 Icepocalypse!

  1. READ BOOKS – On days like these, I’m especially grateful for my Kindle. As long as my WiFi is working, I can get new books without ever leaving the house! Here are three books about (or set in) Nashville that you can find on Amazon.com. Hidden History of Nashville by George R. Zepp  (2007) In this unique collection of columns, longtime journalist and Tennessee native George Zepp illuminates a less familiar side of the city. Learn the secrets of Timothy Demonbreun, one of the city’s first residents, who lived with his family in a cliff-top cave; Cortelia Clark, the blind bluesman who continued to perform on street corners after winning a Grammy award; and Nashville’s own Cinderella story, which involved legendary radio personality Edgar Bergen and his ventriloquist protegee. Cleverly rendered, using questions from readers across the nation, these little-known tales abound with Music City mystery and charm. All the Pretty Girls by J.T. Ellison (2012)  When a local girl falls prey to a sadistic serial killer, Nashville homicide lieutenant Taylor Jackson and her lover, FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin, find themselves in a joint investigation pursuing a vicious murderer. The Southern Strangler is slaughtering his way through the Southeast, leaving a gruesome memento at each crime scene–the prior victim’s severed hand. Ambitious TV reporter Whitney Connolly is certain the Southern Strangler is her ticket out of Nashville; she’s got a scoop that could break the case. She has no idea how close to this story she really is–or what it will cost her. Bowling Avenue by Ann Shayne (2012) Welcome to 603 Bowling Avenue, a lush, empty Colonial Revival house tucked away in a leafy Nashville neighborhood. Who’s that in the ratty attic bedroom, holed up like a squirrel, writing real estate ads as fast as she can? Delia Ballenger, former Nashvillian. She’s back in town to sell the house that her tender-hearted big sister inexplicably left her after dying in a car crash. Delia needs to get back to Chicago as fast as possible. But uninvited people keep showing up at the front door. Delia finds herself up to her eyeballs in a flood of mysteries, secrets, and the sort of love that sneaks up on you. For everyone who has muttered “You can’t go home again,” here’s what happens when you go anyway.
  2. WATCH MOVIES – Whether you have a Netflix account or some other way to download, here are a couple of Nashville-centric movies you might enjoy. Robert Altman’s NASHVILLE (R rated – 1975) is a seriously-good movie with a star-studded cast and a story that remains relevant 40 years after its release date. If you’re in the mood for something more contemporary, and you enjoy the Nashville TV show, you might like Country Strong (PG-13 rated – 2010), starring Garrett Hedlund, Gwynneth Paltrow and Tim McGuire. This drama is centered on a rising country-music songwriter (Hedlund) who sparks with a fallen star (Paltrow). Together, they mount his ascent and her comeback, which leads to romantic complications involving her husband/manager (McGraw) and a beauty queen-turned-singer.
  3. LISTEN TO OLD MUSIC – My appreciation of Nashville music doesn’t date back to my collection of vinyl records, but I do have some pretty old CDs that date back to the Columbia Record Club days, and I’ll bet you do, too! As I write this, I’m listening to Randy Travis‘s “old 8 x 10” CD, and I’ve got K.T. Oslin‘s “80’s Ladies” and Clint Black‘s “Killin’ Time” up next. It’s surprising how much I enjoy these old albums that I haven’t listened to in at least 20 years!
  4. COOK HOT CHICKEN – Sooner or later, I will write a critique of the Nashville Hot Chicken Joints. I have tried most, but don’t feel qualified to give my opinion until I have tried the hot chicken at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack…which is just far enough out of my way that I still haven’t been there. (Speaking of old country music and hot chicken – anyone else remember when Lorrie Morgan and Sammy Kershaw had that restaurant hotchickens.com on Old Hickory Blvd. off of I-24 West? It was my first exquisitely painful taste of a now-favorite treat!) I always have chicken in the freezer, and I found the Hattie B’s recipe this morning on epicurious.com. So, I’m thinking that I’ll just work on my own Nashville Hot Chicken recipe.
  5. TRY SOME THE THINGS YOU’VE PINNED ON PINTEREST – This doesn’t necessarily relate to Nashville, but it certainly could. You know all those neat ideas on Pinterest that you’ve wanted to try? Mine include recipes, ways to get stains out of (whatever) and craft projects. I think that, in honor of the Icepocalypse, I am going to rid my white shirts of underarm yellowing, and create a unique hairpin out of playing cards. (Neither of these projects requires a trip to the store!)

Sooner or later, you’re going to have to escape the house and risk a trip to the store. It’s supposed to get above freezing and rain on Saturday – a combination which will make leaving the house safe again. Until then – enjoy!