Skip to comments.Great Gobbler Gallop
Posted on 09/13/2013 9:37:20 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
After a reluctant start, Ruby Begonia scampers down the street in Worthington, Minn. (pop. 12,764), in pursuit of her feathered competitor, Paycheck, during the Great Gobbler Gallop.
Guided by a four-person team from Cuero, Texas, the trotting turkey struts along the curb while PaycheckWorthingtons favorite fowltakes a flying foray into the cheering crowd, requiring her frustrated teammates to grab the sidetracked bird and return her to the pavement in violation of race rules.
Shes a very social bird, says Paychecks team captain Pete Suby, 53, waving a plastic paddle to coax the bird along the 150-yard dash.
Although Paycheck crossed the finish line first in the 40th annual race last September, Ruby Begonia was declared the winner because of penalties assessed against the Worthington team.
Four weeks later in Cuero (pop. 6,481), Ruby Begonia won again in the races second heat. With the victory, the Texas town reclaimed the Turkey Capital of the World title and regained the Traveling Turkey Trophy of Tumultuous Triumph after a two-year absence.
Ruby Begonias team captain Linda Nemec, 38, attributes the Texas turkeys motivation to boisterous urgings. We make as much noise as we can, and yell Go Ruby, go! she says. Ruby eventually gets the message.
Turkey racingand raisingare longtime traditions in Cuero and Worthington. Farmers in both communities historically raised large flocks, which were paraded through the streets during Cueros Turkey Trot festivities beginning in 1912, and celebrated during Worthingtons King Turkey Day since 1939.
In 1972, Worthington Daily Globe editor Lew Hudson, 84, discovered that Cuero also claimed to be Turkey Capital of the World and staged a turkey race as part of its Turkey Trot celebration. I couldnt believe there was another crazy town doing that, he says.
Hudson and then-Curero Record editor Ken Long decided to settle the issue with a race. The winner of an annual two-heat Great Gobbler Gallop would earn the world title, a big trophy and bragging rights.
The following year, Cuero sent a turkey named Ruby Begonia to Worthington for the first of two heats. Accompanied by three human handlers, Ruby was an easy winner over Worthingtons bird, and later displayed her prowess in Cuero. But Worthingtons Paycheck, named because nothing goes faster, holds a
22-to-18 lead in the friendly rivalry.
Through the years, the annual race has produced some memorable mischief and feats.
Cuero fans once kidnapped Paycheck. When the turkeys covered cage was unveiled at race time, it contained a fluttering sparrow. On another midnight mission, Texans painted Paychecks toenails pink.
In 1981, Paycheck took flight during the race and landed on the Nobles County Courthouse in Worthington. In 2007, Ruby Begonia flapped off the racetrack and onto the rooftop of the La Femme Boutique clothing store in Cuero. The bird jumped from roof to roof until a helicopter was used to retrieve her.
Both racing team leaders describe elaborate pre-race training routines. Suby says Paycheck runs wild to build up stamina and strength. Rubys coach Craig Nemec, 39, feeds his speedy charge a pre-race diet of Texas grasshoppers. Theyre about 3 inches long, he says with a wry smile.
Cueros Turkey Trot commemorates an early-1900s tradition when up to 20,000 turkeys were herded like cattle from farms through town to processing plants. Large crowds gathered to watch the annual turkey drive. Cuero leaders in 1912 transformed the fall cavalcade into a community celebration, now dubbed Turkeyfest.
Worthington, also once a leading turkey-raising town, started King Turkey Days in 1939. It now hosts a weeklong festival featuring sports events, class reunions, a turkey-calling contest and a grand parade, following the glorious yet giddy Great Gobbler Gallop.
Lighter fare for a Friday the 13th. Painting a turkey's tonails pink might be considered animal cruelty in some quarters...
I thought this was a new poll on our turkey of a president.