By editorial board • 

Community response to script Turkey Rama’s next chapter

No Turkey Trot. No Turkey barbecue. No Biggest Turkey Lip Sync and fundraiser competition.

Should this year’s event just be called Mac-O-Rama? 

To be fair, there will be some turkey this weekend in downtown McMinnville. Street food vendors and local restaurants will feature turkey specials on their menus. 

Also, considering the eccentric crowds Turkey Rama attracts every year, you could likely spot a “turkey” as defined by an entry: “A turkey is someone who has the appearance of being calm and even borderline monotonous, but just when you think they’ve fallen asleep with their eyes open, they bust a cringe-worthy dance move, make a psycho face, or a variety of other random shenanigans that will probably cause you to laugh with them.”

A stripped-down Turkey Rama is better than no Turkey Rama for locals cherishing nostalgic memories of city’s community tradition.

For a glimpse into the origins of the festival, check out the Vintage News-Register page in today’s issue, page B7. The McMinnville Chamber marketed the festival and its turkey industry around the state, with promo spots on Portland news stations and challenging statewide officials to compete in the turkey races. 

Over time, the turkey races were shut down and the industry went the way of the dodo. Turkey Rama remained a vibrant and energetic summer event for many years past, but through the 2000s has waned in interest and participation, with news of a rejuvenated Turkey Rama occurring every few years.

Following the 2017 edition, the festival was in jeopardy of making it another year, as the downtown association decided to withdraw from its organizing duties.

urthermore, the Chamber’s event coordination power has been split between Turkey Rama and the Fourth of July Spectacular around the same time. Encouraged by a group of longtime residents, businesspeople and volunteers, the Chamber was encouraged not to let the event be completely erased. 

Some feathers have been plucked from this year’s event. However, a mini-music festival and the addition of a Sunday car show (which has been attempted in the past) are new features.

There are plenty of ways this story could continue. If you are one who hopes another resurgence is on the horizon, then, while enjoying this year’s festivities, consider what could be added and who should be involved. The turkey barbecue and lip sync contest need to be taken over by new organizations to be revived. Or perhaps local service groups could conjure new additions to the 50-plus year tradition. 

We witness ever summer how the annual smalltown festivals create a sense of community pride. It would be a shame if McMinnville considers itself to have outgrown such an experience. 


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