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Kick-Off to the National Thanksgiving Turkey’s Road to White House


Minnesota expects an invitation from the White House to bring two turkeys to Washington DC the week of Thanksgiving for the annual Presidential pardon. The invitation hasn’t officially been sent yet, but we anticipate that it will come later this fall. We are kicking off the “Road to the White House” at the Minnesota State Fair.


2017 National Turkey Federation (NTF) Chairman Carl Wittenburg and his wife, Sharlene Wittenburg of Alexandria, Minn. are raising the Presidential flock. Five 4-H members from Douglas County are assisting with the project, helping to train the turkeys to become accustomed to light, noises, music, and people.


Saturday, August 26 from 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
4-H Exhibits Building; STEM Center – State Fairgrounds


The Wittenburgs along with the five 4-H members and Minnesota Turkey Research & Promotion Council’s (MTRPC) Executive Director Steve Olson will be available for interviews regarding the kick-off to the White House. The 4-H members can also talk about how they were chosen to assist with this project – through their participation in the Minnesota 4-H “Science of Ag” Contest, in which they won second place.

A table will be set up in the 4-H Exhibits Building with information on how the public can follow along with the flock this fall via the website and several social media platforms.

Fun Facts:


  • 4-H is America’s largest youth development organization empowering nearly six million young people across the U.S.
  • The concept of 4-H is encouraging youth to “learn by doing”, through project areas such as agriculture, science, health, and citizenship.
    • Leadership development is a key aspect of the 4-H program.
  • In Minnesota, over 67,000 youth are active in 4-H.
  • Douglas County is the birthplace of Minnesota’s 4-H program.

Presidential Turkey

  • 2017 marks the 70th anniversary that turkey farmers across the United States have presented a turkey to the President of the United States at Thanksgiving time.
  • The National Turkey Federation (NTF) presented the first turkey to President Harry S. Truman in 1947.
  • Early National Thanksgiving Turkeys were destined for a dinner plate until President George H.W. Bush began the official tradition of pardoning the turkey in 1989.
  • Minnesota has had 12 people serve as the National Turkey Federation Chairman – and present a turkey to a President – since the NTF’s inception and 2017 will mark the 13th NTF Chairman from Minnesota to do so.

Turkey Farming

  • Minnesota ranks #1 in United States for turkey production – with 450 family farmers raising 46 million turkeys on 600 farms across the state.
  • Minnesota has more independent turkey farmers than any other state in the U.S. Many of these farmers come from 4th, 5th, and even 6th generation farm families.

Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA)

  • The Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA), established in 1939, represents the 450 farms and farm families who raise 46 million turkeys annually.
  • Minnesota turkey farms are family – and often have been in the family for 4, 5, and even 6th generations.

National Turkey Federation (NTF)

The National Turkey Federation (NTF) strives to support, grow, and promote turkey across the United States.