Turkeyfest keeps past alive, gobbling

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

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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