Stop Dropping Live Turkeys from Airplanes
Action Alert from

FROM / United Poultry Concerns
October 2016


Every Autumn, the city of Yellville holds its annual Turkey Trot Festival, during which domestic turkeys are hurled from private planes traveling around 70 miles per hour at altitudes of approximately 1,000 feet as part of the “Turkey Drop” tradition.

turkey drop

Disoriented and unable to right themselves, most birds plummet like bricks, fatally crashing onto buildings, cars and onto pavement.

The Turkey Drop clearly violates Arkansas law (§5-62-103), which states that a person commits the offense of cruelty to animals if he or she knowingly subjects any animal to cruel mistreatment.

We urge the Mayor of Yellville to do everything in his power to end this cruel and illegal tradition.

Sign an online petition!

And/Or better yet, make direct contact:

The Honorable Shawn Lane
Mayor of the City of Yellville
Yellville City Hall
(870) 449-6581

FROM United Poultry Concerns

Yellville Turkey Drop: “Festival of Death”
— National Enquirer 1989

From Chapter 6, “Rituals of Spectacular Humiliation,” More Than a Meal: The Turkey in History, Myth, Ritual, and Reality, by Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns.

In December of 1989, THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER did an exposé of a festival tradition in Yellville, Arkansas known as the turkey drop. [1] That coverage, with its photographs of turkeys in mid-air being dropped from airplanes, put an end to the town’s official sponsorship of the turkey drop. However, pictures speak louder than words only to an extent. Journalistic cues—attitude and interpretation—are crucial in determining how a mass audience will respond to graphic depictions of certain kinds of cruelty such as the turkey drop. In this instance, the Enquirer deplored the “nightmarish scenes” of turkeys being thrown from moving aircraft a thousand feet above the ground, plunging through the air at fifty miles an hour, crashing, and being chased down, cornered, and captured by local youths.

Through the years, the Enquirer explained, turkeys subjected to the Yellville turkey drop have slammed into power lines, telephone poles, office buildings, and trees:

“One turkey slammed into a power line so hard the wire bent down about three feet before snapping back up. The bird hit the ground, shocked and dazed, and tried to walk . . . pitifully trying to run on two obviously broken legs before it was crushed to death by a pileup of kids. . . . After smashing into a tree and coming to rest on a branch, one of the birds was pursued by a gang of kids who captured and fought over it—using it in a grisly tug-of-war that ended when one boy tore the turkey’s wing off.”

The turkey drop was the highlight of Yellville’s annual October Turkey Trot Festival, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. Festival chairwoman Janie Purdom told the Enquirer:

“We have a wonderful festival. Each year we also drop 10 to 12 wild turkeys from a plane. Townspeople gather below and try to catch one to take home and eat. We LOVE turkeys! The festival is to recognize the wild turkey, a popular hunting bird throughout Arkansas.”

However, the Enquirer called the turkey drop “sick,” a “bizarre Arkansas celebration,” and a “Festival of Death.” These words, together with the photographs, produced such an outcry around the country that the Yellville Chamber of Commerce cancelled its sponsorship of the turkey drop in 1990.[2] Unfortunately, it is still going on, but fortunately public outrage is growing.


  1.  Blosser, John, and James McCandlish. “It’s Sick! Yellville Turkeys Tossed Out of Planes – For Fun.” National Enquirer, Dec. 5, 1989.
  2. Purdom, Janie (President, Yellville Area Chamber of Commerce). Letter to Karen Davis, Oct. 29, 1996: “Dear Ms. Davis: Thank you for your recent letter concerning the Turkey Trot Festival. The Yellville Area Chamber of Commerce is the official sponsor of the National Wild Turkey Calling Contest and Turkey Trot Festival held in Yellville. The Chamber does not currently sponsor or sanction the dropping of live turkeys from airplanes and has not done so for a number of years.”

Thank you for everything you do for animals!

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