NTF Chairman Celebrates 60th Anniversary of Presenting the U.S. President with the National Thanksgiving Turkey

November 20, 2007
Washington, D.C.

Vice President, Marketing and Communications
202-898-0100 x7227
E-mail: srosenblatt@turkeyfed.org

President George W. Bush today “pardoned” the National Thanksgiving Turkey in a White House Ceremony, as he and National Turkey Federation (NTF) Chairman Ted Seger celebrated the 60th anniversary of the first modern National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation.

Seger presented President Bush with “May,” a 21-week old, 45-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, “Flower.”

While occasional presidential “pardons” of Thanksgiving turkeys dates back to President Abraham Lincoln, the modern tradition began in 1947, when President Harry S Truman accepted a Thanksgiving bird from NTF and its members.

NTF President Joel Brandenberger joined President Bush and Seger at the White House Rose Garden 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.

“This Thanksgiving, we are grateful for a harvest big enough to feed us all -- and millions more. We're grateful for citizens who reach out to those who struggle, and for neighbors in need -- from neighbors in need to the strangers they've never met,” said President Bush.

President Bush then “pardoned” the National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate. Both birds were raised in Jasper, Ind., under the supervision of Seger, president of Farbest Foods, headquartered in Huntingburg, Ind. Seger’s son-in-law Ryan Downes handled the turkey during the ceremony.

The National Thanksgiving Turkey was raised using normal feeding and other production techniques on a farm that has been in the Seger family since 1925. 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.

“It is an honor to be part of a 60 year tradition of presenting the President of the United States the National Thanksgiving Turkey,” said NTF Chairman Seger. “My entire family is here today at the White House ceremony, including my wife, two boys, my daughter, her husband, my mom, and my six brothers and their wives.”

Farbest Foods Inc. the 10th largest turkey processor in the United States, is an integrated turkey operation involved in grain procurement, feed manufacturing, and growing, processing and marketing turkey meats around the world.

The night before the presentation, “May” and “Flower” stayed at the Hotel Washington. After the pardon, the National Thanksgiving Turkey and the alternate were flown first class on United Airlines to the Disney World in Orlando, where the National Thanksgiving Turkey will be the grand marshal of “Disney’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.” After the parade, guests will be able to visit the bird in the backyard of Mickey’s Country Home in Magic Kingdom Park.

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

The National Turkey Federation is the advocate for all segments of the $8 billion U.S. turkey industry, providing services and conducting activities that increase demand for its member’s products. The federation also protects and enhances its member’s ability to effectively and profitably provide wholesome, high quality, nutritious turkey products.