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All-American Turkey Show

The turkey is king of conversation around Thanksgiving, but it was also a hot topic in North Dakota around this time in 1924 because Grand Forks would soon be hosting an All-American Turkey Show on February 12. 

Two-hundred-forty-nine turkeys and other types of poultry, including geese, ducks, wild fowl, and various breeds of chicken would be on display from around the country. Housed in the Doyle building on DeMers Avenue, admission was 25 cents for adults and ten cents for children. Professor O. A. Barton, of the North Dakota Agricultural College, now NDSU, called it “splendid, and the largest ever held in the Northwest.” In fact, Barton and Ed L. Hayes of Minneapolis, who was the president of the Northwest Turkey Breeders Association, claimed the show was the largest of its kind ever held in the United States.

Within a few years, the show almost doubled in size, with newspapers remarking on the more than 500 "aristocratic turkeys from 15 states and three Canadian provinces" at the eighth assembly of the event, with the judging the of poultry almost complete on this date in 1931.

It might have seemed an odd choice to have this grand celebration of all things turkey in North Dakota, but really, many in North Dakota were raising turkeys.

The Bismarck Tribune noted in 1925 that E.R. Montgomery, executive secretary of the All-American Turkey Show, wanted farmers and businessmen to think about a bigger and better future for turkey production. He said, "When the turkey men of America decided to hold an All-American Turkey Show, they recognized the importance of the industry; when they selected Grand Forks as the place for the show, they recognized North Dakota as the state with the greatest turkey producing possibilities; and when breeders throughout the country and produce men of the big eastern markets got behind the movement, they clinched the argument with the truth of the pocketbook."

Well, as it turned out, North Dakota didn’t become a big turkey producer, but right next door, Minnesota is number-one in the nation.

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker


The Bismarck Tribune, Feb. 14, 1924, p8

The Bismarck Tribune, January 26, 1931, p1

The Bismarck Tribune, January 23, 1926, p1 

The Bismarck Tribune, January 27, 1931, p1

The Grand Forks Herald, February 12, 1924, p1

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