Dropping Turkeys from Airplanes May Finally Be Over in Yellville, Arkansas

Turkey tossed from an airplane.

“If a pilot flies by Turkey Trot this fall and drops turkeys from the sky, that will be the end of the festival.”
– Stan Duffy, Rotary Club president elect.

On April 25th, Arkansas Online reported that “The Mid-Marion County Rotary Club has decided to sponsor the annual Turkey Trot festival this year in Yellville after another sponsor backed out.” The Rotary Club voted 16-6 on Monday April 23 to take over the sponsorship, “but only if no live turkeys are on the premises or dropped from airplanes, said Stan Duffy, president elect of the Rotary Club.”

The Yellville Area Chamber of Commerce, which has sponsored the Yellville Turkey Trot festival for years, announced on April 6th it will no longer do so, explaining that the bad publicity generated by animal activists protesting and documenting the dropping of turkeys from an airplane at the festival has become “detrimental to local businesses.”

Background: “Helpless Birds Crippled & Killed in Festival of Death.” – National Enquirer

As far back as December 5, 1989, the National Enquirer ran a feature calling the Yellville, Arkansas turkey drop “sick.” It showed turkeys hurtling in mid-air with the captions: “A helpless wild turkey is heartlessly thrown from a plane 1,000 feet above the earth.” And “The terrified turkey plunges through the sky at a heart-stopping 50 m.p.h.” And then, “Frightened turkey is chased by boys after dropping from the sky. The bird was cornered – and captured.” Sponsored by the Yellville Area Chamber of Commerce and supported by local law enforcement, this sick, sadistic stunt has continued to amuse Yellville.

In a letter to United Poultry Concerns, October 29, 1996, Janie Purdom, president of the Yellville Area Chamber of Commerce at the time, wrote: “The Chamber does not currently sponsor or sanction the dropping of live turkeys from airplanes and has not done so for a number of years.” In 1989, she told the National Enquirer: “We have a wonderful festival. Each year we also drop 10 to 12 wild turkeys from a plane. Townspeople gather below and try to catch one to take home and eat. We LOVE turkeys! The festival is to recognize the wild turkey, a popular hunting bird throughout Arkansas.”

Promoters joke that the turkeys “can fly,” but turkeys don’t fly 1,000 feet above ground. Moreover, a bird’s decision to take off from the ground, a branch or other platform is totally different from being pushed out of a MOVING aircraft in the midst of terrific wind pressure produced by the plane to plunge to wherever the traumatized bird happens to land and then, if he or she is still alive, be chased down by a violent mob. Shocked, terrified and disoriented, most birds plummet and crash, maimed and dying.

A broken, dying turkey after he was thrown for amusement from an airplane in Yellville..
A broken, dying turkey after he was thrown for amusement from an airplane in Yellville. Photo by PETA.

What Can I Do?

Thank the mid-Marion County Rotary Club for prohibiting the “turkey drop” as a condition of sponsoring the Turkey Trot festival in October and point out that you and many other people count on the Rotary Club to stand firm in its decision.

Contact :

Stan Duffy, President Elect
Mid-Marion County Rotary Club
PO Box 40
Yellville, AR 72687