Museum of Northwest Colorado: A turkey toss and Craig’s trade day | CraigDailyPress.com

Museum of Northwest Colorado: A turkey toss and Craig’s trade day

Mary Pat Dunn/For the Saturday Morning Press

A crowd of hopeful “turkey snatchers” surges forward to catch the turkeys gliding from the two-story bank building in the 1939 Turkey Flight on Yampa Avenue. The event, held for several years in December, was staged to draw holiday shoppers to Craig.





A crowd of hopeful "turkey snatchers" surges forward to catch the turkeys gliding from the two-story bank building in the 1939 Turkey Flight on Yampa Avenue. The event, held for several years in December, was staged to draw holiday shoppers to Craig.

Customer appreciation gestures are not new in the endeavor of downtown businesses to attract customers. One such giveaway event held in December 1939 certainly would draw the ire of many people if it were repeated today. At that time, the entire country was pulling out of the throes of the Great Depression, and a spirit of hopefulness was pervading our nation. Growth also was being experienced in Moffat County, and throughout Northwestern Colorado, cash was more readily available, allowing people more freedom to travel and enjoy a bit more discretionary spending.

The ebullient spirit of the recovery combined with the traditional holiday good cheer inspired Craig businesses to attempt to entice out-of-town visitors to come do their holiday trading (today known as shopping) in town. They hatched up an idea, which today would be considered rather feather-brained, to toss 50 turkeys and 50 chickens from the top of the two-story Moffat County State Bank building (still standing today at the northeast corner of Yampa Avenue and Victory Way) to the throng of holiday shoppers below. In addition to the Turkey Flight, as it was billed in the advertising, there were free movie shows at the two local theaters and a free dance held at the armory in the evening.

The event was advertised in The Craig Empire-Courier, and the newspaper also ran front-page stories about the planned event. As it turned out, the day was a tremendous success. The newspaper reported that more than 1,000 out-of-town visitors registered for the event. The downtown businesses also were jubilant as many of them announced that they experienced the largest business day in their histories.

While many things have changed throughout the past 75 years, including attitudes about the treatment of animals, some things are still the same. Local businesses still work hard to attract local buyers, and indeed, the health and viability of our downtown is at stake and is dependent on local trade. Just 25 years ago, Craig had three shoe stores, a men's clothing store, two women's clothing stores, a family clothing store, two electronic repair stores, three downtown drugstores and three downtown hardware stores. With the increase of day trips to larger shopping areas, online shopping and big box stores, these types of small local businesses have dwindled or totally disappeared from our town's landscape.

Craig won't be hosting a Turkey Flight this year or anytime soon to entice local shopping, but we all still can make a concerted effort to search out gifts for our Christmas giving season here in Craig. The demoralizing effect on our community by the recent departure of the Safeway store only will be compounded if we continue to experience a loss of local businesses, especially in our downtown area.

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Nadine Daszkiewicz at the Kitchen Shop on Yampa Avenue was adamant about the effects of local shopping. "With city sales tax revenues down, people really need to consider what any given dollar amount savings is going to cost them when they purchase something out of town as opposed to in Craig. The dollars lost in tax revenue could mean the difference between their street being plowed or not. Is this what they really want?"

As Craig-ites commit to purchase just three (or more) of their planned gifts this year from locally owned businesses, we can have an impact on own economy and our local tax base. Visit downtown and all of our Craig stores and let our dollars and tax revenue stay in town where they belong. The staff at the Museum of Northwest Colorado wishes you a happy holiday season and hopes you include a visit to see our exhibits and bookstore during this time. For more information about the impact of shopping locally, visit or call the museum for more facts on the impacts of local shopping.

Mary Pat Dunn is the registrar of the Museum of Northwest Colorado.