Yellville Turkey Trot back on; no turkey drops allowed

Published: Apr. 27, 2018 at 4:57 PM CDT
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At past Yellville Turkey Trots, independent pilots would legally throw live turkeys out of planes, and some fell to their deaths.

Earlier this month, the Yellville Chamber of Commerce backed out of sponsoring the 73rd annual Trot after backlash from animal activists.

But now the festival has a new sponsor: the Mid-Marion County Rotary Club.

Members of the organization said they are banning people from dropping turkeys this year.

Stanley Duffy, the president-elect of the club, said, "We know a lot of the people around this area that have dropped them in the past. We're able to talk to them and kind of get a mutual agreement not to do it anymore."

Some people who live in Yellville, like David Lites, are disappointed by the decision.

"I actually wanted to catch one and make a pet out of it," Lites said. "It's an attraction that brings people to the festival besides the vendors."

But the Turkey Trot originally started as a festival celebrating war veterans and the turkeys.

Ronald McPherson, the chair of the Turkey Trot committee for the club, said it all started: "After some veterans came back from World War II and the population of turkeys was really low. And they were trying to promote that we need to repopulate the turkey population."

And now the rotary club is trying to still keep that part of the Trot alive.

Duffy said, "They don't want to see this leave. This is a tradition in our town that kind of puts us on the map."

But members are warning this could be the last Turkey Trot if their conditions are not met.

McPherson said, "In some ways it's sad. But times have changed and it's time it stops. If somebody drops a turkey, they have killed Turkey Trot. There will not be another one."

The 73rd annual Turkey Trot will be on October 12-13.