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Turkeyfest keeps past alive, gobbling

By by dianna wray/dwray@vicad.com
Oct. 10, 2012 at 5:10 a.m.


Event schedule

THURSDAY

• 6 p.m. - Carnival opensBarbecue cook-off check-in, Lake Road gate

Friday

• 8 a.m. - Barbecue cook-off check-in, Lake Road gate

6 p.m. - Cuero Turkeyfest mall opens . Admission: $15; 12 and under admitted free. Barbecue cook-off head cooks meeting - Rock House. The Scott Taylor Band - Main stage

• 8 p.m. - Family movie night "Hugo" at park amphitheaterCharlie Robison on main stage

10 p.m. - Jason Boland & the Stragglers at main stage

• Midnight - Mall closes

Saturday

• 7:30 a.m. - Turkey Trot 5K check-in at Main and Esplanade streets

• 8 a.m. - Parade lineup: Esplanade Street at Railroad Crossing

• 9:30 a.m. - Parade entry judging

• 10 a.m. - Cook-off - Jackpot beans turn-in at Rock HouseParade marshal presentation

• 10:30 a.m. - The Great Gobbler Gallop: Main Street and Esplanade Street

• 11 a.m. - Jackpot chili turn-in, Rock HouseCuero Turkeyfest parade begins: Main and Esplanade Streets (U.S. Highway 87)Texas Hold-Em poker tournament registration at Rock House

• Noon - Cuero Turkeyfest mall opens. Food and commercial booths - arts and crafts market - carnival. Mike T - Mad Hatter, street magician. Cook-off - Jackpot turkey turn-in at Rock House. Dutch oven and camp cooking demonstration camp, camp . Antique tractor pull at Airport Boulevard

• 1 p.m. - Dutch-oven dessert cooking check-in at camp cooking area. Cook-off - chicken turn-in at Rock House. Texas Hold-Em poker tournament begins at Rock House

• 2:30 p.m. - Cook-off - ribs turn-in at Rock House. Cook-off - showmanship judging

• 3 p.m. - Ashley Duderstadt on main stage

• 4 p.m. - Cook-off - brisket turn-in at Rock House. Cook-off - Margarita contest turn-in at Rock House

5 p.m. - Clay Crockett & the Shotgun Riders on main stage. Jalapeno-eating contest at pavilion

• 6 p.m. - IBCA-sanctioned cook-off awards presentation at Rock House

• 7 p.m. - Texas Tornados on main stage

• 8 p.m. - Family movie night - "Kung Fu Panda 2" at park amphitheater

• 9 p.m. - Cory Morrow on main stage

• 11 p.m. - Casey Donahew Band on main stage

• 1 a.m. - Mall closes

Sunday

• Noon - Cuero Turkeyfest mall opens. Food, arts and crafts and commercial booths. Carnival. Mike T - Mad Hatter, street magician. Visit the Turkeyfest souvenir booth located under the pavilion.

• 1 p.m. - Extreme midget wrestling. Turkey egg hunt - grass knoll

• 1:30 p.m. - Kids tractor pull - flag pole

• 3 p.m. - Race Your Own Turkey event - turkey coop

• 4 p.m. - Festival / mall closes

Once upon a time, about 100 years ago, turkeys used to trot down the streets of Cuero.

Turkey farming has long been a thing of the past in the area, but every year, Cuero still celebrates the bird with Turkeyfest.

"I think it's one of the few things that makes us unique," said Cory Thamm, Turkeyfest entertainment director.

"Every town has its little thing that makes them special, and by far, that's what makes Cuero special - the turkeys."

On Saturday morning, the streets of Cuero will again be filled with the majestic birds in celebration of 100 years of turkey festivals and the 40th anniversary of Turkeyfest. More than 100 turkeys will be featured in the Turkeyfest parade on Saturday morning.

While turkey farmers used to walk the birds through town, a spectacle that all of Cuero would line the streets to watch, turkey raising hasn't been popular in the area in years, Thamm said. He and the other organizers had to work to find enough turkeys to make a strong showing in the parade.

"We've had to order some and find people that raise them as hobbies and get them to come to Cuero. It's been quite an adventure," he said.

Turkeyfest also features a festival and, of course, the famed turkey race where Cuero's own Ruby Begonia will race Paycheck, the turkey representing Worthington, Minn., in the Great Gobbler Gallop in a bid to win the honor of becoming - until next year's rematch - the "Turkey Capitol of the World."

The festival is focused on turkeys, but it's really about making sure the turkey-centric town keeps in touch with its gobbler past, Thamm said.

"To me, it's something I'm doing that's not about me or about the 22 board members. It's about keeping the community alive, about keeping history alive," he said.

The festival gives people new to the area a brisk course in the history of the town. It's hard to avoid learning about the town's past when the turkeys representing it are running down the main streets.

"There are people who have been here 30 years who don't know why we race turkeys and why our team is called the Gobblers," Thamm said. "I'm going to be satisfied inside and to know it's worth it when I see someone from my grandparents' generation tell someone from kids generation why we're the Gobblers and why we race those turkeys in the street."

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