Turkey races mix fun with feathers

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By CHRISTINA M. CURRIE
Daily Press writer
In November most people are debating whether to roast a turkey or fry it for Thanksgiving.
But the biggest concern for some Craig business owners is that the turkey they purchased has a sense of direction in this year's turkey races.
It's time again for the annual turkey races to benefit the Moffat County United Way. The races will be held at noon Saturday, at Jackson's Office Supply in Craig. What's at stake is good will and the traveling trophy awarded to the turkey whose bird crosses the finish line first.
Last year the races netted more than $1,200 for the United Way and they are expected to raise more than $900 this year for the non-profit organization.
"All the money raised goes to the United Way," United Way Director Corrie Scott said. "It gives us an opportunity to involve small businesses. They can donate to the United Way and have a good time."
Businesses pay $100 to enter the race. Everyone who enters can keep their turkey, but most choose not to. Ilene Updike raises the turkeys and most of the birds are returned to her after their 15 minutes of fame.
"It's just a riot," Scott said. "It's hysterical."
Last year, one turkey defied the wishes of its jockey and escaped down main street. The bird reached the West Theater before being captured.
"I've never seen a turkey fly so well. It was pretty funny because you don't expect a turkey to fly," said Lani Cleverly, event organizer and owner of Jackson's Office Supply.
Turkey jockeys encourage their birds toward the finish line by prodding them with feather dusters.
"[Turkeys] were everywhere last year," Scott said. "They really took off."
In addition to entry fees, money is also raised by placing side bets on the turkeys. All those who bet on the first-place finisher will have their names entered into a drawing for a $50 gift certificate from Jackson's Office Supply. Those who don't win the gift certificate will get a turkey baster.
"Everybody who's just sitting around with nothing to do can come down and participate," Scott said.
Food will be sold as another fund-raiser for United Way.
In addition to the turkey races, participants can turkey bowl. Turkey bowling is an attempt to knock down 10 pins using a frozen turkey instead of a bowling ball.
Each time a person bowls, they will get a ticket for a drawing for a satellite dish with installation, a compact disc visor carrier or a leather day planner. Bowling a strike earns the bowler two tickets for the drawing. People can also enter a drawing for an RCA DVD player by turning in the entry form which will be published in the Craig Daily Press today and Friday.
All prizes for the event are donated by Jackson's Office Supply.
"We just wanted to give people who don't donate to the United Way the opportunity to come out, donate and have a little fun," Cleverly said.
There will also be drawings for frozen turkeys. Though they have been tenderized, the turkeys used for bowling will not be among those given away.
"By the end of the day, they're just demolished. They have road rash," Cleverly said.
Turkey bowling begins at 11 a.m. and the race starts at noon on Saturday.
There is still time to sponsor a turkey for the turkey races. Call Cleverly at 824-8116 or Scott at 824-6222 for more information.

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