Thanksgiving Tradition: Iowa’s Governor Pardons Two Turkeys
"Stuffing" and "Squash" will not be on anyone's Thanksgiving dinner plate this year. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds gave both turkeys a pardon on Tuesday.
The two turkeys walked in front of Reynolds as she read the proclamation during a ceremony that took place on the back lawn of Terrace Hill, the governor's mansion in Des Moines. Pardoning turkeys for Thanksgiving is a holiday tradition that began more than 40 years ago in Iowa to celebrate the state's turkey industry.
Gov. Reynolds has participated in the turkey pardoning every year since she’s been governor. Staff from the Iowa Turkey Federation attended Tuesday's event, along with Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, Lt. Governor Adam Gregg and their families.
“In a year plagued by workforce shortages and supply chain issues, Iowa turkey farmers have worked tirelessly to ensure millions of families will have a turkey for Thanksgiving,” Reynolds said in a press release. “This year especially, we recognize the breadth and value of farmers to provide food for our tables and grocery store shelves, and we give thanks to the ag industry, which is the backbone of our economy. I am proud to pardon Stuffing and Squash and celebrate Iowa’s turkey producers.”
Iowa ranks seventh in U.S. turkey production, producing more than 12 million turkeys annually. The state also ranks fifth nationally in turkey processing.
Two turkey processing plants are located in Iowa. Those facilities -- Tyson Foods in Storm Lake and West Liberty Foods in West Liberty -- combine to produce more than 13 million turkeys each year.
Stuffing and Squash were raised by Iowa Turkey Federation President Ben Slinger and his family on a farm near Ellsworth. According to the Reynolds, a fifth-grade class at West Marshall Elementary School in State Center helped name the turkeys.
Now that they have been pardoned, Stuffing and Squash will live out the rest of their lives at Living History Farms in Urbandale, a Des Moines suburb.