Sunday, May 4, 2008

What is a Turkey Drop? (7 of 16)

The fair schedule listed one Turkey Drop a day. I had no idea what it meant--frozen turkey bowling? A live turkey dropped from a height?
Nope--it's part of the tradition in which the festival uses the proceeds from raffles and craft sales for local aid. The Lions Club “Turkey Drop” offers a split-the-pot prize for raffle ticket buyers whose tickets match the numbered squares on a big grid. The outcome is determined by Charles Wilbur, the wild turkey pictured here (named by Darlene, the turkey wrangler in the cowboy hat). If Charles Wilbur poops on the grid numbered the same as a buyer's ticket, the ticket-holder gets half the prize money and the Lions Club gets the other half--$500 each for winner and Lions alike in good years, when all tickets sell. The Lions Club money goes entirely toward providing eyeglasses and other visual services (like seeing eye dogs) for Vinton County residents with no insurance to help them buy their own. But sales were down a third this year, because, as the local probate juvenile court judge said, “When gas is $3.69 a gallon, you don’t have money for a raffle ticket.”

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