Sunday, November 20, 2016

Turkey Trot Reprise

Friends, I hope you will forgive me for reprising my post from two years ago about the Cuero, Texas Turkey Trot. I’m dealing with an abscessed tooth, living on strong pain killers and feeling pretty loopy. Lacking energy and the ability to concentrate, I decided to repost this story of the famous turkey trot – with an update about the Dallas version.

When our kids were young, my husband and I once took them to a drive-thru wildlife preserve here in Texas. Among the animals we saw that day was a flock of wild turkeys. They were roaming free and showed no sign of fear as we stopped to snap pictures. Those birds were impressive, a lot bigger than I expected and a little bit scary. I mean I wouldn’t care to meet one on foot, especially a large male with his tail spread out like a huge fan.

Now imagine watching thousands of these birds trotting along the main street of a small town in Texas in the early 1900s. That’s exactly what happened in Cuero, TX, beginning around 1908, when a processing plant opened on the outskirts of the town. Turkey raising became a major industry in the area. Buyers bought flocks of birds from outlying farms and herded them through town to the plant.

J. C. Howerton, publisher of the Cuero Record, is credited with suggesting a Turkey Trot. The local chamber of commerce took up the idea in order to advertise South Texas turkeys and encourage turkey raising. The Cuero Fair and Turkey Trot Association was formed, and the first official Turkey Trot took place in 1912, at the opening of the fall marketing season.

Famous Cuero Turkey Trot, 1912; Public domain

Named for the popular "turkey trot" dance of the period, the event was a hit, attended even by Texas governor Oscar Colquitt and other dignitaries. They were entertained by a parade of “floats festooned with turkey feathers” as well as 18,000 or more turkeys strutting down Main Street. Cuero merchants reaped benefits by providing visitors with refreshments and lodging.

For a hilarious look at Cuero's 100th Anniversary Turkey Trot, take a gander at this video:

The following year, a Turkish theme was introduced for the Turkey Trot. Sultan Yekrut (turkey spelled backwards) and Sultana Oreuc (Cuero reversed) reigned over the festivities. Over time, the pageantry became more elaborate. The Sultan and Sultana acquired an entire royal court with attendants in Turkish costumes. Cuero became, for a short time each autumn, an exotic oasis amid the mesquite trees and sagebrush.

Apparently, the event was not held every year. The thirteenth Turkey Trot took place in 1967, with some 3,000 turkeys parading through Cuero. Unfortunately, many of the broad-breasted feedlot turkeys collapsed, and thereafter the Trot was replaced by a seven-county South Texas Livestock Show. However, as part of Cuero's centennial in 1972, the Turkey Trot was revived, using hardy range-raised turkeys in the parade.
Check out this site for more details and a video about history of the Turkey Trot:

Today, Cuero holds "Turkeyfest," featuring a parade, arts and crafts show, food booths, a Miss Turkeyfest beauty pageant, and the "Great Gobbler Gallop," an annual race between prize turkeys from Worthington, Minnesota, and Cuero, Texas. This competition began after a newspaper editor from Worthington claimed his town was the world's turkey capital, not Cuero. Contestants’ names are always Ruby Begonia for the Texas turkey and Paycheck for the Minnesota bird. They vie for the title of World's Fastest Turkey, racing in two heats, one in each city over a two-year period. Turkeyfest is held each October at Cuero.

"Will Ruby retain the Traveling Turkey Trophy of Tumultuous Triumph? Will Paycheck be pacified with the Circulating Consolation Cup of Consummate Commiseration? All bets are off when the birds hit the street, because in a turkey race, anything can happen!"

Cuero (pronounced Quair-oh) is located in DeWitt County, Texas. The population was 6,841 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of DeWitt County and is unofficially known as the "turkey capital of the world." Cuero High School teams are called the Gobblers. In 2010, Cuero was named one of the 'Coolest Small Towns in America,' by Budget Travel Magazine. ~ Wikipedia

Three Fast Turkey Facts from TEXAS PARKS & WILDLIFE

  1. If Wild Turkeys could smell, they'd be nearly impossible to hunt. The eyes and ears of a turkey make it one of the toughest of all Texas game animals. Their vision is the keenest among all Texas game animals. They are especially astute at pinpointing movement and can hone in on noises from a mile away.
  2. Wild Turkey Revival! A hundred years ago, turkeys almost disappeared from Texas due to unregulated hunting and loss of habitat. Now, thanks to hunter and landowner support, bag limits and a restocking program, they are making a steady comeback.
  3. Where the Wild Turkeys are. Turkeys now inhabit 223 of the 254 counties in Texas. You can see them roam at many Texas State Parks. One of the most substantial and oldest winter turkey roosts is at South Llano River State Park near Junction.

49th Annual Turkey Trot in Dallas

The Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot is an annual footrace over an 8-mile course through the city of Dallas, Texas. The race includes both runners and wheelchair racers.

The original Turkey Trot began in the 1940s and was run at the fair grounds in Dallas. The annual 8-mile (13 km) run began in 1968, with 107 runners instructed to run along the shore of White Rock Lake "to the big oak tree and back."

The race quickly grew popular. In 1979, The Trot was moved to downtown Dallas to accommodate more runners and to showcase "Big D". A 3-mile (4.8 km) Fun Run was added in 1984 to encourage the participation of children and families. The distance was changed to 5K in 2009 and the race was certified.

This year's Trot will take place on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, at 9:00am.

The YMCA Turkey Trot is a tradition that draws people from all over the country each year. Even if you're not a runner or walker, there are fun activities for the whole family to enjoy!
For complete details visit

Find Lyn here:
Amazon Author Page: 


  1. It was worth a revisit, Lyn. I think this was such an interesting and kind-hearted post. The Turkey Trot sounds like so much fun.
    An abscessed tooth is very painful. I actually looked forward to having root canals when I had these because it was the end of suffering. I hope you feel better very soon--definitely before Thanksgiving.

  2. Thank you, Sarah. I keep hoping the antibiotic my dentist prescribed will get rid of the abscess, but no such luck so far. I feel as you did, give me the root canal and stop the pain.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  3. Geez, I feel so stupid. Lyn, I've lived in Texas my whole life--except for that 3 year period in the state north of know...that one...for education purposes. Anyway, in my naïve brain, even at my age, I did not connect the TT with herding them to the processing plant. Now I feel terrible. Sigh. Thanks for all this great information...and Happy Thanksgiving!


Thank you for visiting Sweethearts of the West! We are very sad to require comment moderation now due to the actions of a few spam comments. Thank you for your patience.