Turkey Festival brings people in by the thousands
By Lesley Covington
The 23rd annual N.C. Turkey Festival’s weeklong festivities culminated Sept. 15 in an all-day event in Raeford.
The Hoke County seat north of Pembroke was filled with more than 30,000 people for the day.
This year’s theme was Struttin’ in the Park. Most of the events were conducted near or in McLauchlin Park behind the public library on Main Street.
Five contestants from across the state competed for the $1,000 grand prize in the annual turkey cooking contest.
Victor Friedmann, Durham, won the grand prize with his recipe for Cajun-spiced hamburgers named “One Awesome Burger!”
City Manager Richard Douglas went home with a certificate as the winner and sole competitor in the first Turkey Triathlon. The triathlon will become an annual event.
The route ran 4.5 miles through the town.
He rode his bike for the length of approximately five city blocks, ran for about two city blocks and finished by carrying a weighted bag symbolizing a turkey for about one city block’s length.
Goldrush, a beach music band of Lumberton, performed in the Old Armory Park in the first beach music concert in three years.
The concert concluded the festivities, which featured a parade, tennis and card tournaments, storytelling and car and dog shows.
The event, first known as the Hoke Heritage Hobnob, changed its name to the North Carolina Turkey Festival in 1985 when the town decided to focus on Raeford’s chief export.
The turkey cooking contest moved from Raleigh to Raeford for the festival. It became a weeklong event three years ago.