Skip to Main Content

Turkey Drop.

Turkeys Tossed From A Plane Once A Year (Gone)

Field review by the editors.

Yellville, Arkansas

Yellville has a problem. It wants people to come to its annual Turkey Trot festival -- and yet the most spectacular event in the festival is something that the town can't talk about.

That something is the "Turkey Drop," where live wild turkeys are dropped out of a low-flying airplane that circles the two-day festival.

Turkey Trot has been celebrated on the second Friday and Saturday of October every year since 1946. It was conceived as a way to call attention to the region's abundant wild turkeys. A highlight of the festival was the "Turkey Toss," in which live wild turkeys were tossed off of the roof of the County Courthouse. In the 1960s this was replaced by the Turkey Drop.

The thinking behind the toss/drop was that most of the turkeys would escape into the wild and thereby increase the local population. The problem is that while wild turkeys can fly, they are accustomed to it much lower to the ground, from tree to tree. Some of the dropped birds would expire on impact. Some that landed safely ended up being chased around town.

The splattering and the chasing drew unwelcome national media attention in the 1970s and 1980s, and animal rights groups threatened legal action. Since 1990, Yellville has officially divorced itself of the Turkey Drop -- it isn't mentioned in any Turkey Trot literature -- and yet it still happens every year. The town's position is that mysterious planes just show up over the festival every October and drop turkeys (although the drop point has been moved to the south edge of town so that the pilots don't violate FAA altitude regulations). Four or five drops take place each day, with one to three turkeys per trip.

Another memorable event at the Turkey Trot is the Miss Drumsticks beauty contest, in which the winners are chosen while their faces and upper bodies are hidden.

Yellville resident Ralph B. reported in March 2014: "PETA finally got our harmless (unless you are a turkey) turkey drop stopped. I think they threatened to take the pilot's license if he or she threw turkeys out of a plane. I don't go to town during the festival anymore because the turkeys were the reason for going."

There were no drops 2012-2014, yet the bizarre tradition resumed in 2015. And then it finally, maybe, dropped into history for good.

Turkeys Tossed From A Plane Once A Year

Annual 2nd F-Sa in October.

More Quirky Attractions in Arkansas

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in Arkansas.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

My Sights

My Sights on Roadside America

Map and Plan Your Own Roadside Adventure ...Try My Sights

Mobile Apps

Roadside America app: iPhone, iPad Roadside America app for iPhone, iPad. On-route maps, 1,000s of photos, special research targets! ...More

Roadside Presidents app: iPhone, iPad Roadside Presidents app for iPhone, iPad. POTUS landmarks, oddities. ...More

Arkansas Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

Pencil Sharpener Museum, Logan, Ohio (Feb 26-Mar 3, 2024)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings