The annual kickoff to the Thanksgiving holiday happened Tuesday morning… except it looked a little like we went back into COVID times.

The annual Thanksgiving turkey pardoning event was scheduled to take place outside the governor’s mansion. However, this year that was canceled.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza has hit Iowa bird flocks for a second outbreak which caused the cancelation of poultry events. Live bird events were canceled on November 10th and the order is in place until Iowa has gone 30 days without a new HPAI case. The last confirmed HPAI case was on October 31st.

So, if the event couldn’t happen in person this year, how did Iowa pardon its turkey?

Tuesday morning, Governor Kim Reynolds pardoned the turkeys via a video shared on YouTube.

Iowa’s turkey pardoning event is something I look forward to every year, but with the statewide order currently in place to protect flocks from the threat of avian influenza, we are honoring the tradition a little bit differently this year.

This year’s turkeys come from the Iowa Turkey Federation President Ben Slinger and his family in Ellsworth.

The turkeys pardoned this year are known as Stars and Stripes.

Stars and Stripes; Governor Reynolds via Youtube
Stars and Stripes; Governor Reynolds via Youtube

This event helps give Iowa governors the chance to promote Iowa’s turkey industry. Iowa is ranked 7th in the United States for turkey production, raising nearly 12 million birds a year. In Iowa, the turkey industry has a $10.6 billion impact.

While this year we only got to see a photo of Stars and Stripes, hopefully in years to come we will once again see our feathered friends enjoy their capital visit.

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