Smith repeats as chicken champ

Heidi Smith holds her first-place ribbon and rubber chicken from the Rubber Chicken Throwing contest at the Iowa State Fair.

KNOXVILLE — Heidi Smith went back for seconds at the state fair this year, winning the Rubber Chicken Throwing Contest for a second year in a row.

With her win in 2014, that’s three chicken-chuckin’ championships in five years for Smith, 42. Her toss of 60 feet won the 16-to-50 age group. In the Aug. 18 competition.

Smith stumbled across the contest while visiting the fair five years ago. She said, “Look at that, I want to enter.” So, she did.

Once a spring chicken, Smith is now a gristled veteran. And she has a strategy.

The rubber chicken is filled with sand and weighs four to five pounds. Competitors can’t throw it by the head or feet, only by the body, Smith said.

The contest is held at the top of a hill on a rocky surface that keeps competitors from getting a good running start, Smith explained. Smith goes back far enough to get a little running start, then releases the chicken a couple of feet behind the chalked fault line, she said.

Smith scratched in her first contest in 2013.

“I went across the line before the chicken hit the ground,” she said. “Once the chicken hits the ground then you can cross the line.”

Smith said she is competitive and was determined to not only avoid another foot scratch but to win.

Smith advised would-be competitors to beware of trees in the contest area. They have low branches that could block the bird or kill its momentum, she said.

Smith lives in the country and has 30 real chickens but does not practice with them.

“Actually, I don’t practice at all,” Smith said. “I just step up and throw.”