Turkey giveaway gives customers chance to ponder weighty issues

Posted: Monday, November 17, 2003

With their cherry red, nearly featherless heads and plump, round bodies covered in a dark plumage that's iridescent in the sun, the two large turkeys living in a pen in front of the Cad-Re Pet Supply and Feed store in Soldotna have become almost commonplace.

The two charismatic birds -- affectionately named Alexandra and One-eyed Jackie -- curiously watch traffic pull in and out and love to cluck at passersby, but that clucking sound may soon be coming to an end.

"We're just giving away two turkeys," said Dianna Taplin, owner of Cad-Re. "What they do with the birds is up to the winner. They can slaughter them themselves or keep them as pets."

Cad-Re doesn't slaughter the birds, though, so anyone thinking of bringing one home for a holiday feast will have to do their own dirty work.

The turkey giveaway is part of an annual contest that has been going on at Cad-Re for more than 20 years.

"People come in and guess the weight they think the birds will be on Nov. 20," Taplin said.

That's the date the winners of the contest will be drawn.

"It's free for people to guess and they can guess on each bird an unlimited number of times. Whoever gets it right, or is closest to the quarter pound, wins the bird," she said.

In an average year, Taplin said there will be several hundred guesses, but many are far from being accurate.

"We've seen everything from 3-ounces to 300-pounds," she said. "Some people have no concept of what's under all those feathers."

Taplin explained that the two turkeys -- a variety known as the broad-breasted bronze -- were originally purchased from Cad-Re back in March by a local couple who wished to remain anonymous. They raised the birds and then donated them back specifically for the contest.

"Both birds are hens this year," Taplin said, but there have been male turkeys given away in the past. "There's a leg band on one of them so people can tell the two apart when guessing."

As to why Cad-Re puts on this contest every year, Taplin said, "Our mission is to preserve farming and the farming way of life. I love to have the birds here for educational purposes. It promotes the farm life, and I enjoy seeing people's reactions when they see a turkey for the first time.

"People also thinks it's fun, and they like to get a free turkey out of it."

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