Sunday, October 12, 2008

Turkey Trot

Each year our County Seat has a festival called "The National Wild Turkey Calling Contest and Turkey Trot".  The "Turkey Trot" began back in 1946.

The event takes place the second weekend in October and begins on Friday afternoon and concludes on Saturday night.  The town square is lined with food and craft booths. People come from miles and miles to attend, some for the festivities, some just to meet up with old friends and a homecoming of sorts.  The festival includes live music (and street dancing), a beauty contest (Miss Turkey Trot), a legs-only contest called "Miss Drumsticks" (I kid you not), a 5K run (The Turkey Trot Trot), a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, a wild turkey calling contest, a parade, clogging, a lip sync contest and art shows and such.  But, the big draw is the "Turkey Drop".

The Turkey Drop began originally with live turkeys being dropped from the roof of the County Courthouse into the crowd.  Some of the birds flew to freedom, but most of them didn't get very far. I believe the intent of the drop was that as the birds are released, event-goers catch them and keep them to fatten up for Thanksgiving or as pets.  If they weren't caught, they were then added to the wild turkey population in the area... which was, at that time, endangered.  Later, turkeys were dropped intermittently throughout the festival from low flying planes much to the crowd's delight!

Turkey drop

Over the years, the event has prompted attention (animal cruelty) even making the National Enquirer.  So, as law suits were threatened, attempts were made to end the famous turkey drop.

This didn't go over well with the locals, but efforts were made to appease the animal rights groups.  So one year, they decided to drop FROZEN turkeys instead ...

... with parachutes attached, of course.

But, two of the parachutes failed and one turkey went through the roof of a nearby garage.  The other caved into the roof of a 1939 Classic Chevy that was borrowed for the day.  I believe the TV show "WKRP in Cincinnati" created a parody of the frozen turkey drop.

Another year, some "rebel" pilot taped up the numbers on his plane and flew over the festival anyway, dropping the turkeys to an ecstatic crowd. (I most certainly do NOT know who that particular pilot is/was.  He most certainly is/was NOT a friend of the family.)

Today, the tradition continues... the turkeys generally take flight toward the creek, but a few are captured and carried as trophies throughout the day.  I've personally never wasted one ounce of energy on chasing a turkey, since the grocery store has plenty of them (more accurately... my Momma gets hers there).

But, I am proud to say that for many years my father-in-law was the go-to man for Turkey Trot turkeys as he was the one who supplied them for the festival.

Mousie's last Turkey Trot

When he was a small boy, he caught a little white mouse and took it to a local store where he sold it for a quarter.  Ever since, he was known as "Mousie Wallace".  That little mouse was probably his first of many trades.  He made his living as a trader (cattle, goats, hogs, turkeys, you name it). He is gone now, but today would've been his 73rd birthday.

This post is in honor of "the Mouse" who certainly loved the Turkey Trot.  It's not the same without you!