Festivals are starting to spring up and Vinton County, Ohio, is leaping into its annual Wild Turkey Festival May 4 – 7, 2023.
Eastern Wild Turkey was once prevalent throughout Ohio but had disappeared in the early 1900s due to extensive clearing of forests and the spread of agricultural land. According to www.vcwtf.org. efforts by the Ohio Division of Wildlife to reintroduce the bird began after World War II. Earlier attempts with farm-raised birds were unsuccessful as they were not “wild” enough and lacked the instinct to survive natural predators.
In the 1950s, the first live-captured wild birds arrived from West Virginia, with the rugged terrain of sparsely populated Vinton County as their destination. The birds thrived, and within a few years, the Eastern Wild Turkeys from Vinton County were being captured and transplanted to other locations throughout Ohio.
There are five distinct species of turkeys and the Eastern Wild Turkey is the most widely distributed, abundant and largest. They sport the longest beards and are best distinguished by chestnut brown tips of their tail feathers and tail coverts. They can run up to 25 miles per hour and fly up to 35 miles per hour.
Vinton County’s festival came about when a group of community members gathered in the early 1980s to discuss a theme to build a county-wide celebration. They settled on the “Wild Turkey Festival” to remember the vital role the county played in re-establishing the magnificent bird back to Ohio. Every year thousands of hunters, hikers, and vacationers visit the county in the hopes of getting a glimpse of an Eastern Wild Turkey.
Since 1985 the Vinton County Wild Turkey Festival has been held the first full weekend of May in downtown McArthur, Ohio, at the intersection of U.S. Route 50 and State Route 93. The festival features amusement rides, a car show, a karaoke contest, a baby contest, and of course, delicious food. Make sure you attend the Grand Parade and check out the Wild Turkey Festival Queen and Little Miss Pageants.
For more information about the event and schedule, go to www.vcwtf.org.