Chasing Chickens

It started, innocently enough, as an excuse to drive. Four decades later, who would have thought that a bunch of road-hungry hotrodders would still be doing it?

Well, the “Chicken Chase” might have something to do with food . And bench rodding. And driving. And fall scenery. And fun behind the wheel. It’s a fairly un-structured deal, courtesy of Kerry Cameron and the L.A. Cruisers club who hold the reins to the annual Chicken Chase and Reliability Run. Because some of the best events often go down without the microscopic-detail planning, you just go with the flow. For the past several years, the “flow” starts the last Sunday of September at Rosalie’s Restaurant in Sisseton SD. Meet up at Rosalie’s around 11 AM, do the meet-and-greet thing, buy your own meal if you’re hungry, wander around to check out the cars and do some bench rodding, then sometime after noon you leave on a Reliability Run and Fall Foliage tour.  The tour itinerary? Well, that hasn’t been too well publicized but it changes every year and there are plenty of neat places to explore in that part of the country. The drive will be scenic.

Some background on this deal: In 1981, west central Minnesota-based Tri-County Street Rods got together with the Vintiques out of the Watertown-Brookings SD area and decided to take a fall cruise along the Minnesota side of Big Stone Lake. The destination: Ike’s Chicken Shack (thus it was labeled the “Chicken Chase”. Ike’s was a legendary buffet place with a big parking lot and equally large multi-level seating area. Nestled along the eastern shore of Lake Traverse just north of Browns Valley, Minnesota, rustic Ike’s Chicken Shack was a popular destination for hungry folks from all over the tri-state area and the scenic drive along the lakes was a perfect season-ender. Yes, we have pics from that year:

The first Chicken Chase: Randy (blue Vintiques jacket) and Pam Gribble; Barb Gribble (Blue jacket, back to camera) and hubby Kevin (red Vintiques jacket). In the blue jacket behind Kevin is TCSR member Pat Johanson. TCSR member Bob Zahnow is strolling into the frame at right. The yellow ’40 Chev was Kevin and Barb’s, the red ’40 Chev belonged to Pat and Margaret Johanson, and the blue ’35 Chev coupe at the rear was Randy and Pam’s.
At left, Randy and Pam Gribble’s ’35 Chevy coupe. The silver ’33 Ford 3-window was Tinker and Teri Powell’s ride. Behind that was Darold Schulz’ ’34 Ford sedan and John Whaley’s orange “A” coupe.
From Ike’s, this group headed back along the Minnesota side of the lakes and wound up at Ortonville’s Paul Bunyan’s Anchor site and scenic overlook. From the front: Keith Boettcher’s Deuce sedan (which he still owns); Pat and Margaret Johanson’s ’40 Chev coupe; our ’39 Ford Deluxe coupe; Gary and Julie Boettcher’s ‘Vette; John Whaley’s chopped “A” coupe; Dan Sterner’s ’33 Ford coupe; Ed and Yvonne Shell’s ’56 Chev; and Kevin and Barb Gribble’s ’40 Chev coupe.

The next year, the groups made it… sort of…. official: They called it the “Chicken Chase”. In a fit of artistic malfeasance, I even drew up a mascot/logo: an overgrown chicken at the wheel of a Model “A” roadster pickup loaded with drumsticks. (Nothing creepy about that!)

chase mascot

And the Vintiques brought dash plaques which were available for a dollar to anybody who wanted a souvenir.  In ’83, the Tri-County Street Rods did the plaques and the clubs began a rotation supplying them. In ’87, the Northland Strollers out of Aberdeen SD joined the rotation. 1992 brought Sisseton’s L.A. (Lake Area) Cruisers into the mix and they’ve been running the show ever since. Yep, more pics:

The 1983 ‘Chase: a group of cars convened along Ortonville’s main street before heading out on the cruise to Ike’s Chicken Shack.
Part of the parking lot scene at the 1983 Chicken Chase.
The “Chicken Chase” – 1986
More from the 1986 edition of the “Chicken Chase”

The final run to the actual Ike’s Chicken Shack location happened in 1998. The original Ike’s wound up closing and the veteran building was later torn down. But, I think we gave the place a great sendoff!

1998 "Chicken Chase", Ike's Chicken Shack, Browns Valley MN


1998 "Chicken Chase", Ike's Chicken Shack, Browns Valley MN


Subsequent venues included eating spots like West End Grille, Jack-Son’s Cafe, Dakota Sioux Casino, Buffalo Lake Restaurant near Eden, and now Rosalie’s in Sisseton.

2003 Chicken Chase – Jack-Son’s Cafe, Sisseton

Though none of them could quite match the atmosphere of the original Ike’s Chicken Shack (as any who were there can attest!) it was still an easy wrap up to a season on the road and a great way to wind down.  So, I figured re-visiting a bit of Chicken Chase history might help build up the appetite for asphalt.

Oh, yeah, and maybe some chicken too.

2 Replies to “Chasing Chickens”

  1. Thanks for the professional coverage of the “Chicken Chase”. I probably have all the dash plaques you are missing. Give me a list. Good to see you back. lmc

    1. “Professional”? Wow, maybe a little too much credit there, but thanks! Yeah, it was a fun time.

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