Flap sees fes­ti­val can­cel tur­key drops

Sunday News - - WORLD -

LIT­TLE ROCK The long­time spon­sor of a north­ern Arkansas fes­ti­val that in­cluded drop­ping live tur­keys from a low-fly­ing air­plane to crowds be­low says it will no longer or­gan­ise or pro­mote the an­nual gath­er­ing.

Yel­lville Cham­ber of Com­merce board mem­ber Les­ley Ed­monds said a flap had con­tin­ued since the 72nd An­nual Tur­key Trot last Oc­to­ber. She didn’t know whether other or­gan­is­ers might come for­ward.

‘‘For many years, we have en­joyed the days of a fam­i­lyfriendly fes­ti­val that served as a home­com­ing; an oc­ca­sion ev­ery fall to gather and en­joy a pa­rade, live mu­sic, crafts, fes­ti­val food, and ca­ma­raderie,’’ the board said in a state­ment posted on its Face­book page. ‘‘We feel we can no longer de­liver the same ex­pe­ri­ence.’’

The tra­di­tion of a ‘‘Phan­tom Pilot’’ drop­ping live tur­keys be­gan 50 years ago, but protests had mounted in re­cent years.

‘‘Our goal is to help our lo­cal busi­nesses grow, and the fes­ti­val has been more detri­men­tal to them than pros­per­ous,’’ the board said.

The US Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion has in­ves­ti­gated but said the pilot was not run­ning foul of avi­a­tion rules.

Re­gard­less of whether any laws were bro­ken, an­i­mal rights ac­tivists wanted the tur­key drops stopped.

Gene Baur, the pres­i­dent of Farm Sanc­tu­ary, said: ‘‘Drop­ping birds out of an air­plane is un­ac­cept­able and out­side the norms of so­ci­ety.’’

Baur’s group said it had taken in four birds that sur­vived last year’s fall.

Arkansas is one of the na­tion’s top tur­key-pro­duc­ing states. AP

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