In the land of meat-and-threes, only one meaty mammal can pack a punch big enough to make our mouths and our eyes water. That's right – we're talking about hot chicken, Nashville's gift to proponents of poultry and supporters of spice. We've been known to wolf down some hot chicken during each and every season, but there's something special about a fowl feast in the summertime, where the heat of the July sun combines with the fiery burn of the cayenne crust to give us something gourmet and glorious. It's the culinary equivalent of a steam bath. It's also the reason we love the annual Music City Hot Chicken Festival, which brings the heat to East Park this Fourth of July.

Organized by the Nashville Hot Chicken Coalition (yes, that is a thing –and yes, it sounds makes our stomach growl, too), this day long event kicks off with a fire truck parade led by former mayor Bill Purcell, who founded the fest back in 2007. The parade starts marching at 10:30 a.m., and we don't recommend missing it, especially since the first 500 attendees get free chicken from some of the city's best spots. On the roster this year are old-school joints like Prince's and Bolton's, as well as newer places like Hot Stuff and Hattie B's.

Not an early bird? No worries. Hot chicken will be served all day long – for a price – and festival sponsor Yazoo Brewing Company will have plenty of drinks on hand, too, to help quench the flames. Around lunchtime, the amateur cooking contest will pit six teams against one another, with a panel of chicken connoisseurs ultimately choosing the best fowl-fryin' recipe. Finally, since this is Music City, there will be plenty of bands on hand to kick out the jams: the rootsy Shelby Bottoms String Band, the jazzy Centennial Hiptet, singer/songwriter Stephen Salyers and the fantastically named blues-rock band Kevin Ball and the Busters.