Sunday, June 13, 2010

#27 Turkey Festival - Tremont, IL - June 12, 2010

#27 Turkey Festival - Tremont, IL - June 12, 2010

The turkeys were flowing at this festival as it proved to be much larger than expected. Look at those beautiful Golden Brown and Delicious (GBD for those in the business) turkeys just waiting for you. These people were professionals, and each turkey only took 1 and 1/2 hours to cook to perfection. It was only 12:30 in the afternoon when this picture was taken, and they had already cooked 750 turkeys that day. How you may ask....

As I had mentioned, these people were professionals. Behold the Cooking Fields. A 7 row wide 6 column tall array of fire and gas. It was enough to give me grill envy. Each one of these beauties held 4 turkeys, which if you do the math, meaning they could cook 168 turkeys at a time. Impressive, but I want to know what other events occur throughout the year to justify such Costco-esque cooking capacity.

The smell of Thanksgiving was too hard to resist for long, and I was in line for this plate quickly. Pictured is a Turkey Sandwich, a Turkey Leg and potato salad (I like potato salad). If the sandwich were capable of regenerating itself over and over again, I may still be eating it. The only problem was that turkey can be a little bland, something the smoked turkey leg had no problem with. It shocked me the first time I got one that the smoke ring creates a pink interior. I know some people that refuse to eat meat off a bone, but this would convert you. Also you're wrong.

Now I had never seen Turkey hot wings, and apparently this was the first time they were offered. Having a penchant for spicy foods, I dove right into these wings. The small wings were fattier than chicken, but the meat itself was just like chicken if not a bit drier. The sauce left something to be desired as it was way too oily. I wish more places would get beyond dumping hot sauce into butter and calling it sauce. I know that's the classic recipe, but the ceiling is unlimited and too easy to make.

It was a humid day that made you pray for a breeze. If you live in the Mid-West, you know what a hot and humid day feels like. I cry way too much all Winter for me to complain about heat. Then, the skies grew angry and that breeze I asked for came in the form of a challenge to stand up straight. The locals knew what was coming and started to run for the hills, which I also did. You can see the clouds rolling in in this picture. There's something creepy about an empty swing creaking away as ominous storm clouds descend in front of you. Run Away. For the record, the drive home was full of stretches where I couldn't even see 10 feet in front of my car. The lengths I go to in order to bring you this silliness.

Festival Trinket of the Week: Since turkeys don't grow on trees, I had to buck my recent trend of buying plants. Instead I found this little wooden frog. If you roll the accompanying wooden stick along the ridges on the frog's back, it makes a sound reminiscent of a croaking frog. Does it work? Kind of. Is it silly enough to join the collection? Yes.

Video of the week: Normally I like to introduce you to a new musician in this space, but the entertainment didn't start until late and I didn't get a video of anything worthy of gracing this page. Instead, I bring you this video of a bed race. A bed race is constituted of a team of 5 pushing a self-designed bed with wheels, then running it around it twice, and continuing to push it across the finish line. The team on the far side looked like professionals, and they can show you how better than I can describe.

Now I have no idea why there is a turkey festival in Tremont, IL, and my local table mates couldn't tell me either. I asked them whether there was a turkey farm around, or if they raised turkeys around here, or even if it's because 1/2 the letters in "turkey" are represented in Tremont. Confoundingly the answers were no. But why ask so many questions when there is turkey to eat?

I think everyone should cook a turkey at least once, and if you need inspiration here is last year's turkey photo contest including one of my previous efforts. If you plan on cooking a turkey, please always brine it first. Trust me it works, but like Levar Burton used to say in Reading Rainbow, "Don't take my word for it". Here is a great site for cooking nerds explaining how the brining process works. I will also always recommend my man Alton Brown for his roast turkey recipe from Food Network.

Have you ever wondered where you can find an inflatable turkey? Right here of course. Why would you want one? To play this stupid game of course. Or maybe you wanted to watch two brothers re-enact a turkey shoot with one brother doing an almost too good job of emulating a turkey. Here's a surprise, Christopher Columbus was confused/lost and mis-named something. The fact that Native-Americans are still called Indians 500 years later is disheartening. Back to the silliness, maybe you want to dress up a turkey in people clothes so here you go courtesy of Highlights Magazine (My favorite doctor office read as a child). Or, how about some jokes (The first one may be the best).

I also participated in the turkey toss competition, but spared you the photos. They only had four frozen turkeys, and repeatedly threw them in a 100 degree plus heat index day for over an hour. I think you can understand the consequences. For the record I did chuck a turkey 85 feet, but alas the winner threw his 119 feet. He was massive, standing 9 feet tall if he was a foot. Anyway here is much more turkey lore and information concerning everything from turkey wattles and snoods, to why turkeys should keep their head down in the rain. Off for some Hillbilly games next week. Wish me luck.


  1. repeatedly through them

    repeatedly 'threw' them

    Great column!

  2. Thanks for pointing that out! Guess it got by my crack editing department (me). That kind of thing bothers me too. Thanks for reading!

  3. Another winner, and funny one. I can't believe you entered the frozen turkey toss and don't have any photos in the blog. The mouth-watering BBQ shots made up for it I guess.

    I see you didn't get to the answer for why the Turkey festival is in Tremont. But did you find out what the history is of that bed race?

  4. The cooking field had to have been a spectacular sight!

    The sandwich looks heavenly!

  5. Trust me Imron, you don't want to see the pics. Let's just say there was a water bucket dipping station to clean them. And Bucky, I saw the cooking field and it was glorious.

  6. hope some of these are within your '5 hour rule' and fill up your calendar for the summer.

    keep up the good work!

  7. Thanks Anonymous for your help! I will keep filling out my schedule throughout the year, as I'm trying not to repeat festivals from last year. Let me know if you have any suggestions, and thanks for reading!