Ruby Begonia smoked some tail feathers last month. And the 9-second lead that left one particular Paycheck in Worthington, Minn., blank is not the only reason folks in Cuero and the Crossroads are eagerly anticipating next weekend. As Turkeyfest gets trotting Oct. 10 through Oct. 13, the exhibit, “Cuero Celebrates Warhol,” will open at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Museum on Oct. 11.
No town can purchase or quickly concoct the quirky charm of the Great Gobbler Gallop at Turkeyfest in Cuero. It’s the kind of feel-good stuff manufactured in movies that romanticize small towns – think “Steel Magnolias,” “Hope Floats,” and “Baby Boom.” But it’s real in Cuero; it took a half-century to build; and it happens every year right here in the Crossroads.
The friendly competition between race turkeys and towns took off when an editor from the Worthington newspaper passed through Cuero during the annual Turkey Trot in 1972 and realized both small towns laid claim to the same title, “Turkey Capital of the World.” You can imagine the ribbing between the editors in the Cuero newsroom, and you can’t imagine a better beginning.
The turkeys race the clock in two legs of the gallop, one at King Turkey Day in Worthington and the other at Turkeyfest in Cuero, and their times are combined. Teams of four adults from each town run, shout and wave their arms to steer their prized birds across the finish line. And sometimes, a team member might have to pluck the competitor from the crowd where it darted, tuck it under one arm like a football and run with it.
The winner gets the “Traveling Turkey Trophy of Tumultuous Triumph,” and the loser gets the “Circulating Consolation Cup of Consummate Commiseration.”
Furthemore, the friendships that have developed between the residents of the two towns over the course of almost 50 years likely provide more stories than can be told. For example, when flash flooding devastated Cuero in 1998, Worthington raised $10,000 for its sister city. Cuero city officials used the money to purchase a rescue boat. They named it Paycheck.
As festivalgoers celebrate Cuero’s small-town appeal at the race on Esplanade Street, one of the historic buildings lining the same street will feature the work of a world-renowned artist whose originals sell for millions. “Cuero Celebrates Warhol,” will open at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Museum with works from the Cowboys and Indians Series created by Andy Warhol, the master of pop art. The exhibit also will include the Western and Native American-themed work of five other artists, including Bob “Daddy-O” Wade, Billy Schenck, John Moyers, Ira Yeager and John Nieto. A members-only preview party will kick off the exhibit Thursday at the museum where members will enjoy hors d’oeuvres catered by A Taste Above and an open bar.
Those not lucky enough to be among the 7,000 residents in Cuero during this particularly eventful weekend have two undeniably good reasons to make the trip.