Monday, October 09, 2006

Oh, Boy! Time For Turkey Trot

Back in the 60’s, while the rest of the world celebrated “Flower Power” and started making plans for Woodstock, I was in Yellville, helping DJ make plans for the National Wild Turkey Calling Contest and Turkey Trot. DJ was the chairman and I was THE ONE WHO DID ALL THE WORK (ahem, excuse me, I got caught up in the memory).

Turkey Trot is the one big two-day festival Yellville has every year. I never cease to be astonished at the number of people who come out of the woodwor---uh, attend. It seems to get bigger every year. And, this year, it's this weekend.

There is a parade and people set up booths all around the square to sell their craft items and food on a stick. All the leftover hippies who live deep in the woods come in and offer Red Man tobacco, and used to offer "wacky-backy", too. They're still offering Red Man today, but I don't know about the other kind.

There used to be a turkey shoot in which live turkeys were trapped in wooden boxes, with their little heads poking out and people shot at them. Those turkey heads would be bobbing and weaving, and dodging those bullets, oh it was quite a sight. Whoever killed one won a prize - and the turkey. They have stopped using live turkeys these days, I think, but they have a target shoot.

Saturday is the big night. There is a turkey dinner in the high school cafeteria. Your ticket buys you a full turkey dinner and all the trimmings. It's usually pretty yummy.

After the dinner, everyone waddles over to the high school gym for the Miss Turkey Trot and Miss Drumsticks contests. The Miss Turkey Trot contest is your usual beauty contest, with prizes for the three top winners. The Miss Drumsticks contests is exactly what you think it is. The contestants are judged on their legs. Period.

The year DJ handled it, we decided to build a great big chicken wire and tissue paper turkey, and have the girls slip it on over their heads, leaving only their legs showing. There were handles inside the turkey for the girls to hold. But, still, I'll have to say it wasn't our finest hour. That turkey was a work of art, but it was a tad heavier and more unweildly than we intended, and the contestants staggered around the gym as if they had been drinking Wild Turkey, instad of wearing one. They soon discovered that, in order to give the turkey to the next contestant without making everyone wait too long, they had to flop down and back out of the bird on their hands and knees. This was not viewed by the audience, but was a great source of hilarity behind the curtain.

The Turkey Calling Contest is immediately following the beauty contests, after most of the audience has left. It isn't everyone's cup of tea (women) but is hugely popular with a large number of hunters and other men. I think the top prize is somewhere in the neighborhood of $1500, so it's worth the commute if you're there from Kentucky, Georgia or Alabama.

There is an art to calling a wild turkey. Most people make their own devices, usually a piece of wood whittled down and fine tuned so that it will sound as close as possible to a turkey call when the wooden scraper is drawn across the wooden piece. Some people scoff at these callers. Say they are for people with no talent. The scoffers make the sounds of a turkey with nothing more than their mouths and their experience in the woods, hunting the birds.

There is one event that is more popular than any other, and that is the Turkey Drop. At intervals on Saturday, someone flies over the square in a small plane and throws out live turkeys. Come back! Don't stop reading, now! Wild turkeys can fly, dagnabbit! They don't get hurt. Well, not many, anyway. Maybe one or two have had unfortunate accidents, such as landing on the roof of a car, or smacking into the side of a building. But, the majority of them make it to the ground or rooftops safe and sound, where the little children of Yellville catch them and take them home for their Thanksgiving dinners.

And, before you ask, yes, the SPCA has registered complaints every year, and every year the committee nods and smiles and then revs up the plane. The event is simply wildly popular in the same way that bullfights are popular, or throwing people to the lions.

All in all, it's a fun festival, but I'm not going. To me, it's just an anxiety attack waiting to happen.

16 comments:

gawilli said...

This is a hysterical post! Geez, my stomach hurts from laughing. People really shot at turkey's heads bobbing up and down, sticking out of a box? What a hoot! Once on a 70's tv show, WKRP in Cincinati, they had a turkey drop. I never knew they really did this somewhere. We had a wild turkey try to fly across the interstate last year coming home from Kentucky. He barely made it over the hood of the car and then came to a skidding halt on the burm of the road. It was huge. It scared me half to death! Thanks for the belly laugh, Betty!

Betty said...

gawilli: WKRP got the idea for that show from Turkey Trot. The guy who played Herb Tarlick is from Arkansas and knew all about it.

Susan said...

OMG! You are skipping this??? What a hoot! My sides are aching.

All we have is a lame Salmon Festival. Kinda like a really bad fair minus the rides...oh and with a dressed up salmon. I kinda, sorta forgot to go last weekend.

John said...

Only in America Betty. Only in America ! LOL.

patsy said...

i saw this tv show in the 70's and this radion station got this bright idea of throwing turkeys from a plane. this news report, not the brightest candle in the window was reporting it as it happened. it was the funniest show i ever saw i laughted until i was sick.turkeys were bombing everybody and everything you couldn't see the turkeys all you saw was Lester's face.that was enough.the owner of the station said at the end "I HONEST TO GOD THOUGHT THEY COULD FLY"

Maya's Granny said...

My favorite line from WKRP in Cincinnati was, "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

The hit the parking lot "like bags of wet cement". Of course, they weren't wild turkeys.

How funny.

Annie said...

Betty, your post is as entertaining, if not more, than the Turkey Trot weekend events. Those of us who can't/won't be going can enjoy it through your eyes. Thank you so much. This was great.

F&W said...

I'm stunned. I'm appalled. I don't care if they fly safely to the ground or not, throwing a live turkey out of an airplane is just wrong.

Now that I've got that off of my chest, I can say that the rest of the fesitval sounds like fun (especially now that they AREN'T shooting captive turkeys in wooden boxes!) ;)

Miss Drumsticks. LOL!!

Gary James said...

I don't think I will ever shake the image of those little turkey heads bobbing up and down in the box while people shoot at them. What a hoot.

SongBird said...

Hello from a fellow Arkansan! I saw a reference to the UofA in your comment on gawilli's site and just had to drop in for a visit! I've never been to Turkey Trot, but I have heard of it.

Betty said...

Hi, Songbird. Welcome. I hope you'll come back sometime.

willi said...

Three cheers for the nod to the SPCA and reving up the plane. That Miss Drumsticks story is a hoot.

Kell said...

You forgot to mention the dunce cap you made for Dad to wear in the parade. I love that photo.

They shot at turkey heads? That cracks me up. You just can't make that stuff up!

Neil said...

I've seen a few things in my time in the States but Turkeys From A Plane..?? Is that the new Sam L Jackson movie? Anyway, thanks for dropping by Betty.

Swampwitch said...

Oh my goodness.I think I've been there. Do they have turtle races, too? Yellville, USA. Enjoyed my visit.

Newt said...

Too funny. I love to see things through your blog. You have an amazing gift for storytelling.