It’s odd how you can live in a state for all your life and be completely ignorant about some of the more colorful history in the region.
Such is the case with me and the Yellville Turkey Trot that’s been going on since 1946. Every year that particular Arkansas town celebrates it’s abundant wild turkey population by holding the Turkey Trot festival on the second Friday and Saturday in October.
The biggest – and least talked about – aspect of the Turkey Trot is the unofficial Turkey Drop. I’ll talk more about that in a minute.
This evening I was talking to my wife about various Thanksgiving/Christmas things when I mentioned that famed episode on WKRP in Cincinnati in which doomed turkeys were hurled out of airplanes. It seems turkeys don’t fly all that well and splattered on the ground, much to the horror of gathered Thanksgiving celebrators.
“That’s based on a real event, you know,” my wife said. “That started in Yellville.”
“No it’s not,” I protested. “Throwing turkeys out of an airplane would be insane.”
I continued to claim that my wife was pulling my leg, so she dug up this story for me. It seems people started tossing wild turkeys of the courthouse roof in Yellville early on and then started dropping the poor things out of low-flying planes in the 1960s. That practice continued until national attention was brought to it by the aforementioned WKRP episode, a story in the National Enquirer and pressure from groups against animal cruelty.
The city got away from the annual “Turkey Drop” around 1990 but, evidently, the practice still continues unofficially. I’ll have to go see that one day. Apparently, some turkeys still fall to their deaths while others survive and either run into the woods or get chased all over town.
Strange, strange, strange.