Governor pardons turkey | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Governor pardons turkey

Nov 26, 2019

"Lilly," Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Gov. Doug Burgum at the "pardoning" ceremony.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A tradition for Thanksgiving – the Governor pardons a turkey.

The ceremony was held today at the state Capitol in Bismarck, as Governor Burgum “pardoned” Lilly – a turkey raised by grower Dave Rude of Tolna.

"By the authority invested in me by the state of North Dakota, I hereby grant that Lilly receives a relaxing Thanksgiving back on the farm," Burgum said. "And Lilly, may you live long and healthy, and may you have lots of gobbling without being gobbled."

Rude said Lilly is an “organic” turkey, meaning she’s only fed special organic feed – feed that he has to import from Wisconsin.

North Dakota has 9 turkey growers in North Dakota – and together they grow between one million and 1.2 million birds. Rude said he does have some concerns about the future of the industry in this state.

"We have an aging population, Rude said. "The questions is -- do they have siblings or offspring to take over?"

Rude said right now, it's status quo for the industry in this state.

"Hopefully, it'll stay that way," Rude said.

The North Dakota Turkey Growers Federation also donates a number of turkeys to charitable organizations around North Dakota, for Thanksgiving dinners.