Talkin’ turkey: Cuero celebrates its history, races for bragging rights at annual Turkeyfest

Though the community is no longer known for its turkey rearing, it remembers its roots through the flightless fowl every year.

By Kristen CabreraNovember 22, 2023 8:30 am, ,

The City of Cuero has been celebrating turkeys for over a century. In the Southern Texas town, just an hour’s drive from the Gulf, wild turkeys once roamed the plains. Settlers and farmers began raising them, and soon Cuero was known for its plentiful turkey farms.

“It started as the Turkey Trot back in 1912,” says Cuero Mayor Sara Post-Meyer. “And that was when so many of the farmers would bring their turkeys into town and load them on the railroad cars and they’d be shipped north for Thanksgiving.”

During that time, when cars were few and far between, farmers would herd their turkeys on foot into town. Visitors from all over would come to see the turkeys march through main street and enjoy Cuero’s planned festivities.

But as the turkey numbers waned and the industry changed, so did the Trot. In its place is Turkeyfest, which is held annually in mid-October and just celebrated its 51st year.

Cuero could not simply call itself Turkey Capital of the World, despite its history and celebration of turkeys. It’s had to fight for it – well, more like race for it – against Worthington, Mich.

Courtesy of the City of Cuero

“The newspaper editors for the Cuero Record and the Worthington paper challenged each other to a race with the turkeys from their hometowns,” Post-Meyer said. “So that the race could decide which town could call itself the Turkey Capital of the World.”

Cuero’s turkey is named Ruby Begonia, while Worthington’s is named Paycheck, “because nothing goes faster than a paycheck,” Post-Meyer quipped. This year’s crown went to Worthington.

“We didn’t get it. We lost by a couple of seconds, which is just – I don’t know,” she sighed before breaking into a laugh.

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