Friday, November 18, 2011

1939 Turkey Festival

In September 1939 the first ever Turkey Festival was held here in Harrisonburg. The two day event took place on Monday, September 4, 1939 and Tuesday, September 5, 1939. The festival was designed “to pay homage to Lord Rockingham II, the big American bird emblematic of the county and city’s five million dollar poultry industry.” [1] It was hoped that the Turkey Festival would become an annual event that would earn Harrisonburg and Rockingham County nationwide attention.

Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce secretary Russell L. Shultz originally proposed the idea for the Turkey Festival in January 1939. The membership of the Chamber of Commerce adopted the idea and went forth making plans.
According to the festival program printed in the Saturday, September 2, 1939 edition of the Daily News Record both days of the festival were packed full of events from 8 am Monday morning through late Tuesday evening. Events included a turkey exhibit hall, band concerts, a Turkey Institute, turkey stunts, tours of Rockingham turkey ranches, historic point tours, tours of Natural Wonders, a turkey throw, a baseball game, the Queen’s coronation ceremony and special reception, Turkeyrama pageant, turkey roasting demonstrations, flights on the Goodyear blimp, two parades, a tournament, street entertainment, a turkey race, open air chorus, and two dances. Of course, each day was also highlighted by the opportunity to partake of some turkey as the schedule actually says,

Monday - Noon - Eat Turkey
Monday - 6:00 - Eat More Turkey
Tuesday - Noon - Roast Turkey Dinner
Tuesday  - 6:00 - Turkey Supper. [2]

Members of the 4-H Club started Monday morning with a turkey roasting contest. First place went to Carolyn Long and Lydia Ann Miller. At 10:30 Mrs. Elva S. Bohannon, Home Economist of the Rural Electrification Administration, presented a turkey roasting demonstration complete with advice on how to kill a turkey at home. Souvenir booklets containing turkey recipes were distributed after the demonstration. [3]

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Veterans History Project

PFC Tommy Tucker Showalter
US Army, WWII European Theater
In 2000, the United States Congress created and funded the Veterans History Project under the auspices of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress. The mission of the project is to collect first-hand accounts of U.S. veterans who have served in WWI thru the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Participants are those who served on the frontline and those civilians who worked war industries and volunteered at the USO. Spotlighted stories have included women veterans, the Buffalo Soldiers, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines, the Southeast Asia campaign, and tactics used in the War on Terrorism. The website is www.loc/gov/vets. To recognize the 5,000 residents of Rockingham County who served in WWII and the numerous other local veterans of the Korean War, The Viet Nam War and Desert Storm, the Massanutten Regional Library is a project participant.

Friday, November 4, 2011

1940 Turkey Festival

In late August 1940 news cameramen from M-G-M News of the Day, Paramount, Fox Movietone, and Universal descended on Harrisonburg to film footage for news reels to be shown in theaters. The purpose of the footage was to publicize the 1940 Turkey Festival which was scheduled to be held on October 10th and 11th. The film would eventually be shown in local theaters as well as theaters across the United States and overseas.

The cameramen were invited here by Robert F. Nelson, public relations counsel for the State Chamber of Commerce.
Upon their arrival the cameramen headed to the farm of P.A. (Dick) Carver where they were joined by a flock of 2,000 turkeys and more than 60 attractive Harrisonburg and Rockingham County girls. The girls were filmed driving the flock of turkeys and engaging in a “battle royal” pillow fight.
You can view 35 seconds of the newsreel footage on the Critical Past website by clicking one of the screen shots.

You can read more about the 1940 Turkey Festival on the Daily News-Record microfilm housed at Massanutten Regional Library.