"A former pastor came [here] in '78 by the name of Sanford Willard," said McMillan, a lifelong White UMC member. "He had done some barbecue chicken and had a famous recipe at some of his other churches. So he wanted the church to start promoting a festival and the theme of it would be centered around the famous chicken recipe -- the sauce. People from all over come for that sauce because no one in the area anywhere serves a sauce like that. It's a very popular, famous sauce that nobody has the recipe.
"So he asked the members of the church when we worked on the first festival to try to pick a name for the festival and an older gentleman in our church, S.A. King -- he was very prominent in the city of Cartersville ... [named] it Chic-O-Pen," he said, referring to the name, which is a combination of chicken and chinkapin, a North American oak tree. "So then it started in 1978 and it started with about  to 700 chickens ... and it grew till we've done as many as 2,000 chickens. And right now, we're closer to around 1,500 and we might do more before the week's out. It [started as] a fundraiser for the church but it was also [an event] for the community."
Along with $6 barbecue chicken plates, which are served between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., the Chic-O-Pen Festival also will feature a yard sale, concession stand, arts and crafts, live entertainment, a wrestling match, car show and children's activities.
Registration for the car show, which is $25, will be from 8 a.m. to noon, followed by an awards presentation at 2 p.m.
"There's all types [of vehicles]," said White UMC member Glen Kimbrel. "You'll have the A models, then you'll have 2011 Dodge Chargers and Camaros and Corvettes and everything in between. You'll have Mustangs [and] Thunderbirds. Then you have the classic cars. It's a mixture of everything and also we're having motorcycles."
While there will be no admission fee, proceeds from the festival will benefit White UMC in various areas, including its missions, youth programs, building upkeep and general budget. Pastored by Dr. Larry Hannah, the church features about 100 members, McMillan said.
For more information about the Chic-O-Pen Festival, call White UMC at 770-386-8089. To pre-register in the car show, individuals need to contact Kimbrel at 770-877-2573.