CUERO – Seeking a victory after his loss in hometown of Worthington, Minn., Paycheck the turkey galloped toward the finish line and gobbled up Ruby Begonia’s chance of a second triumph.
Paycheck won the Great Gobbler Gallop at the 47th annual Turkeyfest in Cuero on Saturday morning with a time of 1:19.25. Ruby Begonia had two touch penalties that added an extra 10 seconds to her time of 1:31.19. Combined with their past race times of 1:19.50 for Paycheck and 1:10.46 for Ruby Begonia, this meant the turkey racing team from Worthington took home the Traveling Turkey Trophy of Tumultuous Triumph.
Without the touch penalties for Ruby Begonia, the birds only pecked out a 2-second difference. Oliver Steck, who provided the audience with a play-by-play of the race, said this year’s Gallop was one of the closest he’d seen.
“This one was really direct,” he said. “They really were concentrating, really focused.”
Although Paycheck trotted toward triumph, Ruby Begonia had the support of the Cuero community, which lined both sides of the street, decked out in Gobbler green to cheer on the famed feathered female. She even got a kiss from Miss Cuero for good luck before the race.
Sophia Davis, a 17-year-old junior at Cuero High School, was crowned Miss Cuero in June. Davis has cheered for the Cuero turkey since she was as tall as a turkey. But with her voluminous white skirt this year, she wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the fast fowl.
“There’s this little hoop underneath it,” Davis said about her dress. “I have to pick it up with both my hands, and my mom hates it when it drags, so I have to pick it up in the back also.”
Another Cuero native, 23-year-old Caytlyn Phillips, also said the community event was a staple of her childhood. Phillips said Cuero has a unique enthusiasm for turkeys. Just don’t remind them where those birds end up in November.
“We don’t talk about that,” she said.
This Thanksgiving, Paycheck will go home to Worthington to father turkey tots who will trot forward with his legacy, said Jaime Salinas, from the Minnesota team. As for Ruby Begonia, announcer Eric McCowan said she should take a dive in a deep fryer.
“Those two penalties were ludicrous,” McCowan said. “I thought she was trained better than that.”