The small Arkansas hamlet of Yellville is holding on to a fowl tradition.
For the past 71 years, live turkeys have been dropped from an airplane, 500 feet above the town square as its annual Turkey Trot Festival gets underway. Four to five drops are made on both days of the festival, with one to three turkeys toss out of the plane each pass. In this year’s event, turkeys were dropped over the town on Oct. 7 and 8. One bird died in each toss, which preceded a scramble of festival visitors trying to claim the shaken and scared turkeys as their own. While Yellville authorities say their hands are clean in the matter, animal rights organizations and compassionate activists are calling for the immediate end to the horrific event.
Yellville and the turkey drop have been the subject of protest for over 30 years now, ever since national news media first covered the event in the 70s. The town stopped officially endorsing the event in 1990, according to Roadside America, and for over 15 years theregistered pilot has been Dana Woods, of nearby Mountain View. The turkey drop was skipped from 2012 to 2014, not out of concern for the turkeys, but because of weather and pressure from protesters.