TURKEY TRAFFIC JAM
You’ve probably heard about the great cattle drives of the late 1800’s but you may be surprised to learn that not every historic livestock drive in Texas featured cattle. The ranchers around Cuero preferred to round up and drive a far more diminutive animal, something you might call the “featherweight” of livestock – turkeys. During the early 1900’s, Cuero opened its first turkey processing plant to accommodate the turkey raising operations thriving around the Cuero countryside. The plant added a convenience for the surrounding turkey raisers but ranchers still needed to get their turkeys to town. Livestock truck-and-trailer transports were out of the question since they hadn’t even been invented yet so turkey raisers took a cue from their fellow cattle ranchers and drove their turkeys cross-country on foot…or, perhaps more accurately, turkey legs. Not surprisingly, the annual drive attracted the attention of large numbers of onlookers (who wouldn’t want to watch ten thousand turkeys strutting down Main Street?), inviting savvy Cuero business owners to capitalize on the throngs of visitors. By 1912, the Cuero Turkey Trot was an official organized event, complete with dancing, a parade, and the crowning of a Turkey Queen.
Today, the tradition continues with the Cuero Turkeyfest, an annual celebration of Cuero heritage featuring the feathered mascot that started it all. The festivities begin with the “Running of the Great Gobbler Gallop”, an avian race through Cuero’s historic downtown district featuring two competing gobblers, one from Cuero and one from a “rival” community. The spectacle is followed by a parade, a jalapeno eating contest, a 5k fundraiser, and a BBQ cook-off. The three-day event features live musical entertainment, clowns, and a changing venue of special attractions including a Wild West show. Over the century since its first inception the Cuero celebration has transformed from a local attraction to a state-wide draw. The bird, however, remains the tasty critter it has always been.
See website for program schedule and pricing.
Annually, second weekend of October.