Presidential Turkey

Presidential TurkeyWe love this time of year … because it’s all about Thanksgiving, family, pumpkin pie and the centerpiece of this amazing meal, the turkey, of course!

Minnesota turkey farmers raise more turkeys than any other state in the U.S. – 46 million! This year, a very special Minnesota-raised turkey will be designated the National Thanksgiving Turkey and be pardoned by President Obama at the White House the day before Thanksgiving.

The National Thanksgiving Turkey Pardoning ceremony has been an annual holiday tradition since 1947, when the first turkey was presented to President Harry S. Truman. It’s been only recently that the ceremony has been an official pardon – so dubbed in 1989 by President George H.W. Bush.

The Minnesota turkey attending the ceremony (and his alternate) is from Badger, a small town in Roseau County. The prestigious turkey will be accompanied by John and Joni Burkel and their family of five children, who have not only raised this esteemed bird as part of a special Presidential flock, but raise turkeys for a living.

Their special Presidential flock consists of 6 turkeys that have made the cut from 80 and have been hand selected as part of this fun “star search”. Over the past few weeks, these turkeys have received special training to get any one of them ready for the trip to Washington DC.

The family has been taking a lot of pictures and videos daily to get them acclimated to the flashing lights from cameras. They listen to a variety of music 24/7 so they are accustomed to noise. They are picked up daily and set on a table that resembles the display table during the ceremony at the White House.

The birds have even been visited by several classes from the Badger school so that the students can learn more about turkey farming – and at the same time, help the birds adapt to people other than the family.

You can follow the journey to the White House at, where we have photos and videos of the flock posted; fun activities and print-outs for kids; and a blog that is updated often.

You can also follow all the fun conversation at and

Need turkey preparation tips? Visit

And from our turkey barns to your homes, Happy Thanksgiving!

Watch some videos of the Presidential Turkey and meet the farmer who is raising the flock:

This entry was posted in Food Facts, Fun Activities, General Information, Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council. Bookmark the permalink.

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