NTF Chairman Presents U.S. President with "Marshmallow" the National Turkey Federation Turkey

December 5, 2005

CONTACT: Sherrie Rosenblatt
Senior Director, Marketing and Communications
202-898-0100 x227
E-mail: srosenblatt@turkeyfed.org

President George W. Bush and National Turkey Federation (NTF) Chairman Pete Rothfork continued a 58-year-old holiday tradition today, as Rothfork presented the president with the National Thanksgiving Turkey.

Rothfork presented President Bush with “Marshmallow,” an 18 ½-week old, 37-pound tom. The turkey’s name was chosen by visitors to the White House Web site, who voted on their favorite names for the National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate.

NTF President Alice L. Johnson, D.V.M., joined President Bush and Rothfork at the White House Eisenhower Office Building for the annual Thanksgiving presentation.

The annual presentation of the National Thanksgiving Turkey to the president has become a traditional holiday ritual in the nation’s capital, signaling the unofficial beginning of the holiday season and providing the president an opportunity to reflect publicly on the meaning of the Thanksgiving season.

“The granting of the turkey pardon is not a responsibility that I take lightly, and I want to thank all of those who helped plan today's event. I appreciate the efforts of those of you from the National Turkey Federation, especially Chairman Pete Rothfork and President Alice Johnson. I want to thank James and Vicki Trites from Trites Farm in Henning, Minnesota.” said President Bush.

President Bush then “pardoned” the National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate. Both birds were raised in Henning, Minn., under the supervision of Rothfork, president and CEO of Rothfork Associates in Melrose, Minn.

Rothfork delegated the day-to-day responsibilities of raising the birds to Jim and Vicki Trites, Minnesota turkey growers. The National Thanksgiving Turkey was raised using normal feeding and other production techniques. The one exception is that the bird was provided increased interaction with people so that he would be prepared for his role at the White House Ceremony.

Jim Trites handled the National Thanksgiving Turkey at the presentation ceremony. “As a second generation turkey farmer from Minnesota, I am proud to represent the turkey industry at the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation at the White House,” said NTF Chairman Pete Rothfork president and CEO of Rothfork Associates in Melrose, Minn. Rothfork Associates is the live production division of Melrose Feed Mill, Inc. Melrose Feed Mill manufactures 40,000 tons of feed annually. Its affiliates grow 30 million pounds of turkey on eight locations in central Minnesota. Rothfork Associates owns 25 percent of Turkey Valley Farms LLC, which owns a plant in Marshall, Minn., which opened March 2005,

Rothfork’s wife Patti and their two grandchildren joined him at the White House. “Marshmallow” and “Yam” stayed at the Hotel Washington the night before the presentation. After the pardon, the National Thanksgiving Turkey and the alternate were flown first class on United Airlines to the Disneyland Resort in southern California where the National Thanksgiving Turkey he will be the grand marshal of “Disney’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” on Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland as the park celebrates its 50th anniversary. After the parade, the birds will be on display for visitors at Santa’s Reindeer Roundup at Big Thunder Ranch in the park’s Frontierland section.

Jaindl’s Turkey Farm in Orefield, Pa., gave the first family two dressed turkeys, packaged in specially designed Cryovac/Sealed Air Corporation bags, to enjoy at their Thanksgiving dinner.