Two turkeys from a Walcott farm's "presidential flock" made their national debut Monday in Washington, D.C., at the ritzy Willard InterContinental Hotel ahead of a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House on Tuesday.
The two toms strutted for reporters and photographers after being introduced at a press conference by the National Turkey Federation.
Iowa turkey producers Ron and Susie Kardel of Walcott raised the two turkeys that will be part of the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation Tuesday at the White House.
Ron Kardel on Monday announced the names of the two turkeys, Corn and Cob.
"I think this event is great today, because Lord knows 2020 has been a little challenging — whether it COVID, whether it's (wild)fires, whether it's economic turmoil," Kardel said during the press conference. "I think it's great to celebrate something that is happy, something that is for everybody, something that is for all of America. This is a fun deal, and it's fun for us."
The Walcott family is the eighth from Iowa to raise the turkeys for the annual pardoning.
The first Presidential Turkey Proclamation event was held in 1947, when President Harry Truman received a live turkey from the National Turkey Federation, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture. And "pardoning” as a custom began with President George H.W. Bush in 1989.
One of the birds will be named the official Thanksgiving Turkey and the other will serve as an alternate. Both will then live out their days at Iowa State University — where animal science students, faculty and College of Veterinary Medicine students will contribute to the care — and will be available for public viewing starting at 10 a.m. on Dec. 5.
The pair was given their own suite at the Willard InterContinental Hotel ahead of the annual White House turkey pardon.
"They’ve kind of been pampered," Ron Kardel told the Quad-City Times last week. "We built a 10-by-24-foot building with ventilation, heating, air conditioning and a little patio outside" for the "presidential flock" of 30 turkeys, from which the two toms were chosen.
The turkeys hatched in early July and have been "gobbling along to oldies tunes" to help them get used to crowd noises, according to the National Turkey Federation.
A sixth-generation turkey and row crop farmer from Walcott, Ron Kardel serves as the current chairman of the National Turkey Federation and is responsible for supplying a turkey for the annual National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation.
Iowa ranks seventh in the nation in turkey production, with 130 turkey farmers, and the fifth-largest state for turkey processing. The turkey industry generates $10.64 billion in total economic activity throughout Iowa, said Gretta Irwin, executive director of the Iowa Turkey Federation.
Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa on Twitter encouraged Iowans to visit the White House’s Twitter account to vote for their pick to receive President Trump’s turkey pardon. The poll will be open for the rest of the day Monday for people to cast their votes.