YELLVILLE, Ark. (KTHV) - This weekend, Yellville is celebrating its 71st annual Turkey Trot. The event runs from Friday, October 7 until Saturday, October 8 with a slew of activities including a "turkey drop".
A "turkey drop" is when a turkey is thrown out of a moving plane high above a spectating crowd. The turkey then has to fight to fly after being disoriented from the rapid change of locations. Turkeys are generally a flightless bird, but wild turkeys can fly short distances up to a quarter mile.
Recently, both Arkansas Times and the Arkansas Democrat Gazette both reported on the Yellville tradition. The Dem-Gaz interviewed the once anonymous Dana Woods, who drops the turkeys from his plane every year. He claimed, "they can fly a long ways," and that, "we're good to them." The Arkansas Times was not as kind to Woods, comparing the drop to pushing people off a 10-meter diving board.
In both of the articles, FAA maintained as long as something dropped from the plane doesn't hurt someone or damage property, it's legal. The FAA also said that animal cruelty is under local jurisdiction.
Woods, who used to go by The Phantom Pilot, doesn't seem to be affected by the spotlight and will continue the ritual this weekend. However, the attention on the "turkey drop" got a little bigger after PETA released an "action alert" asking the public to let, "Yellville officials know that you oppose this reprehensible tradition."
The Dem-Gaz added a poll with their article, asking readers if they found the ritual cruel or not. Currently, an overwhelming majority of 10,899 people agree that the tradition is cruel to the turkeys. Only 7% of those who read the article believe, "the tradition is important to the community."
If you wish to call local city leader, PETA listed several contacts within the Yellville community. To contact the Yellville Chamber of Commerce you can call (870) 449-4018.