Cuero names Ruby Begonia for annual turkey race

From left to right: Dawn Draper, Cory Thamm, Jason Rogers and Bobby Phillips, all of Cuero, chases a turkey during a race to pick the new Ruby Begonia.
  • WHAT'S IN A NAME?

    No one's really sure how Ruby Begonia got her name. There are rumors it was the name of a former mayor's daughter. Some believe it came from the famous radio show "Amos and Andy."

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  • WHAT'S IN A NAME?

    No one's really sure how Ruby Begonia got her name. There are rumors it was the name of a former mayor's daughter. Some believe it came from the famous radio show "Amos and Andy."

TERRYVILLE - Courtney Clark watched the turkey sprint across the lawn as the Cuero Turkeyfest Association race team ran after it yelling, "Get!"

"Wow, this one's going to be a good one, probably," said 12-year-old Courtney, who has been to every Ruby Begonia selection show since it became public three years ago.

On Saturday, the Cuero Turkeyfest Association, along with members of the Cuero community, chose the turkey it would race in the annual Crowning of the Fastest Turkey in the World and the Turkey Capital of the World. This is the third year the selection has been held publicly at the Ruby Training Facilities South Branch in DeWitt County, near Yoakum.

Every year, the turkey is ceremoniously named Ruby Begonia, which has been the name of the turkey debutante who represents Cuero in the annual contest it has with Worthington, Minn. Worthington was built on turkey raising just as Cuero was in the early 1900s.

The rivalry began in the 1970s, when the editors of the Worthington and Cuero newspapers decided to hold a turkey race. The winner would earn the distinction of being the Turkey Capital of the World.

"Like most good things, it kind of just happened," Cory Thamm, a Turkeyfest board member, said.

Ever since the first race, the two towns have been coming together twice a year to hold the races. Times are tallied and the turkey with the fastest combined time wins.

The Cuero race is held at the annual Turkeyfest in October. Worthington holds their festival and race a few weeks earlier, in September.

The idea to start having a public selection of Ruby Begonia was Thamm's, Bill Hickey, the Turkeyfest association's president, said. Thamm is a past president.

"It really brings the community together now that we're doing a community selection process," Hickey said. "It's not just the race team selecting the turkey, it's Cuero selecting the turkey."

Previously, the selection would happen in private. Handlers on the race team, made up of members of the board, would catch wild turkeys. The last one to be caught was named Ruby Begonia.

With the high school's mascot named the Gobblers, people take pride in Ruby Begonia. And if you ask people in Cuero, Ruby is practically an icon.

"Really and truly, she is," Dawn Draper, who was chosen as a handler in the race, said. "Everyone associates Turkeyfest with Ruby Begonia."

Draper said she was honored to be on the race team, made of four people from Cuero. She was the one member of the race team who does not sit on the Turkeyfest association.

Bill Matthys, a Cuero city council member, has been to Worthington the last couple of years. He said the relationship between the two communities, which are similar in size, has been mutually beneficial.

"This is really a good thing between the two cities," he said. "We've learned a lot from each other in terms of city administration. So it's been a good thing."