Protest Turkey Olympics

"Gobble Grandstand" is Grotesque

For the past 15 years at Thanksgiving time, the Inn at Lake Waramaug in New Preston, CT has forced turkeys dressed in human costumes to perform for spectators and the media. Trophies are "awarded" for such categories as Fastest Eater, High Jump, Slalom Race, 50 Yard Dash, Heaviest, Most Uncooperative, etc. People may bring their own turkey or use a bird supplied by the Inn from a local farm. The turkey will then be shipped back to the farm for slaughter.

The birds used are production turkeys, predisposed by human genetics to have difficulty standing let alone running. The Fox TV coverage in 1993 showed clearly that the birds were bewildered and scared and the humor (including that of Fox) nasty. On Sunday, November 20, 1994, Berkshire Advocates for Animals protested the event, recorded what they saw, and took pictures. This is their report:

"We saw a pen full of 'supplied' turkeys set up for those who had reserved a bird for the occasion. People went into the pen, picked out an unwilling bird, forced the bird into a costume, and brought the costumed victim out to the cheering crowd. Some turkeys had to be held by several people at once in order to force on the costume. Much alcohol was being consumed. People were in a raucous mood. A few turned away in disgust.

"The turkeys were knocked about, pushed, and threatened with sticks. They were carried out into the arena with a degrading costume and a 'funny' new name, e.g. 'Mu-Donna,' 'Fred Flinturkey,' 'The Big Kahuna,' and 'Turkey In The Hay.' The MCs mocked them: 'Here comes Turkey Sandwich'; 'On your mark, get set, I'm just waiting for someone to bring out the mayonnaise!' (roars of laughter). 'Turkey Sandwich' was pushed through the 50 yard dash in 13.55 seconds, a 'new record.'

"The ultimate low was a poor bird plucked from the pen and labelled 'The Turk-A-Nator.' Dressed in camouflage and emboldened with Budweiser, the people behind this stunt showed off 'their' big bad bewildered bird riding in his own custom tank wearing a sinister black cape. As this turkey was pushed down and held firmly in his killing machine, a woman marched alongside the 'warrior' with a large placard depicting a killer turkey and reading:

TURK-A-NATOR
Possible Resume:
Pluck You
I'm Foul
I'll Be Baked
Eat My Stuffing
I'm Fried

"Two busloads of mentally and physically challenged people were brought in for the day. Many children were present, learning from the adults that making fun of other creatures and bullying them is delightful. Feathers were strewn about where birds had been forced into costumes, made to run and jump, and had even been ridden. Some distressed birds in the holding pen pecked at each others' neck feathers. Some birds were bleeding. The 'turkey olympics' is an arrogant display of human dominance over other creatures. It should be stopped."

What Can I Do?
An inferior being has no dignity, no identity, and hence no need for a proper name. But sometimes names were deliberately given to amuse the superiors at the expense of their slave-pets. Giving slaves ridiculous names was clearly a playful, but abusive, way of demonstrating the hierarchical relationship. . . . Naming, though nonviolent and seemingly playful, can be one of the most effective rituals of dominance and control over one's "inferiors." Jim Mason, An Unnatural Order: Uncovering the Roots of Our Domination of Nature and Each Other, Simon & Schuster, 1993, pp. 257-58.


"These turkeys are professional athletes."
--Jeff Radocchio
Inn at Lake Waramaug

"It's this smirking sarcasm directed against turkeys."
--Karen Davis
poultry-rights activist

The Litchfield County Times
Friday, November 18, 1994