Presidential turkeys flock to resting roost at Virginia Tech

This year’s pardoned presidential Thanksgiving turkeys will head to Virginia Tech to live out the rest of their lives gobbling up retirement instead of being gobbled.

This marks the fourth consecutive year that the turkeys chosen to participate in the White House Thanksgiving festivities will head to the home of the Hokies to live at Gobblers Rest.

“Virginia Tech has a long tradition of supporting the turkey industry through research and outreach, so it’s fitting that the presidential turkeys becoming part of the Hokie Nation is a new tradition,” said Rami Dalloul, a professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, in a news release.

The bird chosen as the National Thanksgiving Turkey — as well as its alternate “wingman” — will join last year’s birds, Peas and Carrots, at Virginia Tech. The ceremony is generally held the week of the holiday.

Previous presidential turkey pairs Wishbone and Drumstick, and Tater and Tot, died at the farm from natural causes.

Those wanting to visit the celebrity birds can meet them Dec. 1 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Livestock Judging Pavilion in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Once the two birds are chosen, based on appearance and temperament, they head to D.C., where they stay at a hotel near the White House. After getting their closeup and attending several media events — including the ceremony in the Rose Garden — the birds will make their way to Virginia Tech.

Their journey before they get to the farm will be documented on the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages. You can post your own photos of the birds using the hashtag #PresidentialTurkey.

The presentation of the national Thanksgiving turkey started in 1947. The National Turkey Federation’s first chairman, Virginian Charlie Wampler Sr., was among the first to present a live turkey to President Harry S. Truman.

In 1922, Wampler was a Virginia Cooperative Extension agent who sought advice from the head of Virginia Tech’s Department of Poultry Science, A.L. Dean, on how to raise turkeys, the release says.

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