By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

The bird is the word

File photoThe “World’s Largest Turkey Barbecue” in Wortman Park is a highlight of the festival. Turkey dinners and halves are sold in the park and at other sites.
File photo
The “World’s Largest Turkey Barbecue” in Wortman Park is a highlight of the festival. Turkey dinners and halves are sold in the park and at other sites.

Festivities for the whole family will get underway Thursday, with a carnival set up at Fifth and Baker streets, and run through the weekend, with the bulk of activities Friday and Saturday. You won’t want to miss the downtown booths, the almost constant entertainment, the Biggest Turkey lip sync contest, the street dance, the Turkey Trot run/walk, the huge car show and, of course, the world’s biggest and best turkey barbecue.

Turkey Rama’s roots go back to the 1950s, when the large local turkey growing industry started the annual barbecue. It turned into a full-fledged festival 53 years ago.

The area’s agriculture interests have changed — now wine grapes, nursery plants and other crops have replaced the big white birds — but Turkey Rama is still going strong.

These days it’s a combined effort of the McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce, the McMinnville Downtown Association and a host of local organizations and businesses.

Downtown activities will run from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, featuring booths, entertainment and the lip sync contest; and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, featuring the North Valley Cruzzers’ 14th annual Classic Car Show along with booths, food and entertainment.

The carnival will be located at the Oregon Mutual Insurance lot at Fifth and Baker streets Thursday through Sunday. Opening day hours are 3 to 11 p.m., and other days the carnival will start at noon.

This is the second year the carnival has occupied the OMI lot. Phil Hutchinson, Chamber director, said the site worked very well last year and OMI officials are pleased to be able to offer it to the community once again.

In Wortman Park, McMinnville Elks Club members and other volunteers will work all night to grill up more than 10,000 pounds of turkey for the World’s Largest Turkey Barbecue.

The Elks have been leading the barbecue crew for many years. “I don’t know what we’d do without them,” Hutchinson said. “They have the expertise” and apparently pass their barbecuing secrets from generation to generation.

The barbecue will be served from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in Wortman Park. Diners can enjoy entertainment by the Second Winds Community Band, Nancy McCann and other performers.

For the second year, turkey dinners also will be served downtown at the Presbyterian Church, Second and Davis streets.

At either location, turkey dinners will cost $13 for adults, $9 for seniors and $6 for children. The meal includes turkey, potato salad and coleslaw, a roll, watermelon, cake and a beverage.

Barbecued turkey halves also will be available Saturday at the barbecue site, downtown, at the Turkey Trot finish line in Upper City Park, or in the Rite Aid and Bi-Mart parking lots. Cost is $18 per half.



Here’s a breakdown of each day’s Turkey Rama highlights:


  • Carnival, 3 to 11 p.m. 
  • Brown Bag Concert, noon to 1:30 p.m. at the US Bank Plaza 
  • Farmers’ Market, 1 to 6 p.m., Third and Cowls streets.


  • Booths open downtown, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. 
  • Food court at Third and Davis streets and beer garden at Third and Evans, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. 
  • Music on the downtown main stage at Third and Evans, all day -- Black and Blue, 1 to 2 p.m.; Cooper Hollow, 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.; Bluestar, 4 to 5 p.m. 
  • Biggest Turkey lip sync contest, 5:30 to 7 p.m., downtown stage 
  • Downtown Street Dance, 8 to 10 p.m. featuring Soul Shot 
  • Carnival starting at noon.


  • Turkey Trot 8 kilometer run, 5K run and walk, 2 mile walk to benefit the Willamette Valley Cancer Foundation. Registration starts at 7 a.m. at the Chamber parking lot, Fourth and Adams, with the run starting at 8 o’clock; cost to enter is $23 for the walk and $33 for the run. 
  • North Valley Cruzzers car show, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with hundreds of vintage and muscle cars parked along Third Street. 
  • Downtown booths all day. 
  • Music on the downtown stage at Third and Evans, all day --11 a.m. to noon, the Frank Messina Band; 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., Southpaw Speedway; 4 to 5 p.m. Countryside Ride; 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., the Hill Dogs. 
  • Carnival starting at noon. 
  • Famous Turkey Barbecue and entertainment, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wortman Park on the Lafayette Avenue side. 
  • Turkey barbecue meals also will be served downtown on the Presbyterian Church patio, First and Davis streets, from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 
  • Beard and mustache contest, 4 p.m. Saturday at Third and Cowls streets. 
  • Downtown Street Dance, 7 to 10 p.m., music by the Quick and Easy Boys.


  • Carnival starting at noon.

Additional volunteers are still needed to help with the barbecue, turkey sales and other activities. For more information, call the Chamber, at 503-472-6196, or the MDA, at 503-472-3605.

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