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story.lead_photo.caption A wild turkey is released Saturday from a plane flying over Crooked Creek during the annual Turkey Trot in Yellville. - Photo by Andy Shupe

The Mid-Marion County Rotary Club has decided to sponsor the annual Turkey Trot festival this year in Yellville after another sponsor backed out.

The Rotary Club voted 16-6 on Monday to take over sponsorship, but only if no live turkeys are on the premises or dropped from airplanes, said Stan Duffy, president elect of the Rotary Club.

For about 50 years, "Phantom Pilots" have flown airplanes by the festival and released live turkeys. Most of the birds spread their wings and glide to the ground, but some of them don't open their wings and die on impact. The practice has incensed animal-welfare activists.

If a pilot flies by Turkey Trot this fall and drops turkeys from the sky, that will be the end of the festival, said Duffy.

The Yellville Area Chamber of Commerce had sponsored the festival for many years but announced on April 6 that it would no longer do so.

The festival and the attention it drew from animal-welfare activists had become detrimental to local businesses, according to a statement from the Chamber.

Turkey Trot was held Oct. 13-14 last year.

On Tuesday, a Nevada congresswoman said she wants her colleagues to ban the dropping of live turkeys from low-flying airplanes.

Democratic Rep. Dina Titus told the House Rules Committee that while the scene is reminiscent of a 1970s sitcom, maiming animals at the Yellville Turkey Trot is serious business.

Titus' amendment to a Federal Aviation Administration rules package was not sent to the House floor, and the congresswoman told The Associated Press on Wednesday she intends to raise the issue in a separate bill.

Read Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

2016 Turkey Trot festival

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The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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  • HarleyOwner
    April 25, 2018 at 11:41 a.m.

    So, they will probably use frozen turkeys and someone on the ground will get knocked in the head.

  • condoleezza
    April 25, 2018 at 12:07 p.m.

    It is just sad that this is what it takes to force certain Arkansawyers to behave like decent human beings. Unfortunately, it probably won't stop that one guy...

  • TimberTopper
    April 25, 2018 at 12:42 p.m.

    Maybe they should have a turkey shoot.

  • FireEyes
    April 25, 2018 at 1:03 p.m.

    to doggod, These ARE decent human beings for your information, AND the term is Arkansans.

    As to the tossing turkeys, yeah bad idea big time and always was. I'd wager if all you judges out there took at look at the histories of your home states, you'd find plenty of equally wrong things done there both currently in the past. So remember, pointing fingers at someone else always leaves FOUR pointing back at you.

  • garya
    April 25, 2018 at 1:06 p.m.

    "As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly" One of TV's best all-time quotes:)

  • MaxCady
    April 25, 2018 at 1:41 p.m.

    But it's their HERITAGE!!

  • karen11290852
    April 25, 2018 at 1:56 p.m.

    This is truly good news! Thank you on behalf of the turkeys and all of us who have urged Yellville to refuse to have anything to do with throwing live birds out of airplanes. Turkeys are not suited for such a terrifying ordeal. I believe most residents do not view throwing them from moving aircraft to be amusing or acceptable. The Rotary Club is making the right decision from every standpoint.

  • Foghorn
    April 25, 2018 at 3:31 p.m.

    Won’t be complete until the former pilot and all sponsors are also pushed from the plane.

  • Plato99
    April 25, 2018 at 5:09 p.m.

    Dear Fire Eyes: The correct name was "Arkansawyer" long before someone came up with "Arkansan." The usual pronunciation of Arkansan is Ar-KAN-san, which rubs us authentic Arkansawyers the wrong way. You should look up the a famous speech in the Arkansas General Assembly called "Change the name of Arkansas." It's not for delicate ears but it gets the point across in a memorable way.

    April 25, 2018 at 6:53 p.m.

    Amen, Plato99!