BY LYSSA OBERKRESER
Who you callin' chicken? So what if they have beady eyes, sharp beaks, and floppy wattles. Chickens and roosters have been given a bad rap. But spend an afternoon strutting and scratching alongside these poultry pals and you'll see their personalities shining through with a peck, a cluck, and a cock-a-doodle-doo. The friendly folks of Key West have nothing but respect for their feathered residents: They've declared the chicken the official bird of the city, and this weekend you can participate in the fowl play at ChickenFest Key West.
The funky chickens who freely roam the island are descendants of birds raised for food and roosters bred for cockfights. "The visitors who come here love to see the quirkiness of the island, and the chickens exemplify some of that eccentricity," says festival director Linda O'Brien.
The party kicks off with the Fowl Follies tonight at 7:30. Put on your best hen-picked outfit and let out a crow for this free costume contest and talent revue on the beach at the Pier House Resort (1 Duval St.; 305-296-4600). At 9:00, revelers will flock to the Atlantic Shores Resort (510 South St.; 305-296-2491) for the silly "chick flick" Chicken Run and a rousing crowing contest. Other egg-citing events include the Hog's Breath Saloon's (400 Front St.; 305-296-0268) Chick-n-Dales Drumstick Contest (in which a chick with the best gams will be awarded $500) and the Tastes Like Chicken Cook-off with culinary masters creating gourmet poultry-free delights. Don't stay cooped up all weekend; join the barnyard bash that runs through Sunday. For a complete schedule of feather-ruffling events, visit www.chickenfestkeywest.com. --Lyssa Oberkreser
Dominoes for Dollars
For $150 you could buy a bag of weed, take a date to Red Lobster, and have a landscape crew mow your lawn and trim your hedges. Or you could buy a ticket at the door for INGMiami Celebrity Domino Night. The dope will be gone to nowhere, the fish will go the same route, and the grass will grow back soon thanks to summer rains. But Domino Night -- which will feature a champion-level tournament, live entertainment, tasty treats from top chefs, and plenty of celebrities, all in the verdant setting of Parrot Jungle Island (1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami) -- has lasting power. No, not just a memorable night. The money raised goes to Amigos for Kids, which helps thousands of local children. Call 305-279-1155, or visit www.amigosforkids.org. -- Greg Baker
A call for serenity now
Not many individuals have addressed large audiences at the age of three; even fewer have appeared before 7.5 million people worldwide. Prem Rawat, known by the honorary title Maharaji, was born in India and began disseminating his message of peace throughout his country when he was only eight; he was invited to speak in London at age thirteen. The Maharaji believes, "Peace needs to be in everyone's life. Of all the things we have tried in this world, there is one thing we have never given a chance. That one thing is peace." Rawat also founded the Prem Rawat Foundation, which benefits victims of the tsunami in Indonesia and the war in the Ivory Coast. Rawat will spread his "Peace Is Possible" message tonight at 7:30 at the James L. Knight Center, 400 SE Second Ave., Miami. Tickets cost $35 to $100. Call 305-358-5885, or visit www.ticketmaster.com. --Ilona Solomon
Don't Be a Wiener
And don't ask what they're made of
Disturbing fact: According to a survey by The Economic Research Service, more than a quarter of the food produced in the United States goes to waste. A group of concerned citizens will come together to end this crisis by competing at the Pembroke Lakes Mall (11401 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines) for the title of "Florida Hot Dog Eating Champion." Along with saving humankind as we know it, the winner advances to the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, New York (which, according to legend, has been a yearly tradition since 1916). Among the food-conservation activists competing at the Pembroke Lakes Mall will be Jammin' Joe LaRue, the competitive eater who's ranked ninth in the world and is the reigning Florida champion. Show your support today beginning at 1:00 p.m. Visit www.nathansfamous.com if you have the guts to register. --Ryan Brown
If your boyfriend says he needs some space, take him to the Southern Cross Astronomers' "Era of Human Space Flight" lecture tonight. Scintillating speaker and NASA engineer Gary Dahlke will take a giant leap to discuss manned explorations to the moon and Mars; the future of the space shuttle, the Hubble, and the International Space Station; and highlights from the current space probes. You can also snack on a buffet of real food (not that dehydrated astronaut kibble), win some cool prizes, and end the evening with stargazing on the terrace. Get spaced out tonight at 8:00 at the FIU Astronomy Center, Physics Bldg., CP-145, 11200 SW Eighth St., Miami. Admission is free. Call 305-661-1375, or visit www.scas.org. -- Lyssa Oberkreser