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Turkey Talk

November 22, 2016
by Jane Whitmore , Emmetsburg News

This Thanksgiving, the state of Iowa will be represented in the spotlight of the nation's historic holiday tradition as President Obama pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey. This year, the National Thanksgiving Turkey hails from the state of Iowa.

Through nearly seven decades, the President has received a turkey from the National Turkey Federation during Thanksgiving week. As part of the White House event, recent custom has the president "pardoning" the turkey, after noting the significance of a time of thanks for the nation's many blessings, and the opening of the holiday season.

Iowa Turkey Federation hosted a "send-off" from the family farm on Friday morning, Nov. 18.

"We highlight the family aspect of turkey farming, and celebrate with this fun, turkey-centered tradition," said Gretta Irwin, Executive Director of Iowa Turkey Federation.

Since 1947, the National Turkey Federation presents the National Thanksgiving Turkey to the President for Thanksgiving. This year's turkey hails from Iowa at the choice of National Turkey Federation Chairman, John Reicks.

The Iowa Turkey Federation is proud to take part in this tradition, the sixth occasion for Iowa to supply the National Thanksgiving Turkey. Prior presentations from Iowan's have been to Presidents Johnson, Ford, Reagan, and Bush, and now to Obama. The tradition began with the first presentation by the National Turkey Federation to President Truman.

There was a bit of history on the National Thanksgiving Turkey on Wikipedia.

The ceremony dates back to the 1940s, with presidents occasionally sparing the bird presented to them; since 1989, during George H. W. Bush's first Thanksgiving as president, it has been an annual tradition for the president to "pardon" the turkey.

These birds are named, thus making them more like pets in my thinking. Wikipedia takes us back to 2000 with the named birds, starting in 2000 when Bill Clinton was president: 2000: "Jerry the Turkey", a 45-pounder hatched 2000-06-05 near Barron in Wisconsin. The pardoned turkey (the eighth in Clinton's presidency) and its unnamed alternate were both sent to Kidwell Farm's petting zoo in Herndon, VA.

George W. Bush Presidency: 2001: Liberty and his back-up Freedom, so named in the wake of 9/11 attacks.

2002: Katie, the first-ever female turkey pardoned. The 30-pound bird bred by Ron Prestage, Chairman of the National Turkey Federation, as well as alternate bird Zack. The turkeys were named after Prestage's children.

2003: Stars and backup Stripes.

2004: Biscuits and backup Gravy.

2005: Marshmallow and alternate bird Yam, raised in Henning, MN. Beginning in 2005 pardoned birds were sent to Disneyland to live, and serve as the "honorary grand marshal" of that year's thanksgiving day parade, following concerns raised by animal rights groups that the birds had not survived for long. For the previous 15 years they had been sent to Frying Pan Farm Park near Herndon, Virginia. Names were generally chosen in online votes taken at the White House website.

2006: Flyer and alternate bird Fryer, raised in Missouri.

2007: May and backup Flower, raised in Indiana.

2008: The backup "vice" turkey named Pumpkin, after the number one turkey Pecan fell ill the night before the ceremony. Both turkeys were allowed to live.

Obama Presidency: 2009: Courage, provided by the National Turkey Federation, and alternate bird Carolina, raised in North Carolina.

2010: Apple, from Foster Farms in Modesto, CA; and alternate bird Cider.

2011: A turkey named Liberty and an alternate bird named Peace, both of which were raised in Willmar, MN.

2012: Cobbler and Gobbler, both from Rockingham County, VA.

2013: Popcorn, a turkey from Badger, MN. Popcorn won an online contest over its stablemate Caramel, which was also spared.

2014: Cheese and alternate bird Mac, both of which were turkeys from Fort Recovery, OH.

2015: Abe, a turkey again presented by Foster Farms. The alternate was called Honest.

What do you suppose this years birds are named??We will have to pay attention to our Iowa representatives at the White House.



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