News & Media
It’s Thanksgiving week and Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year. I do like the reminder that we as individuals and as a state and nation should pause and give thanks. I grew up in a small country church in which we always sang the old hymn, “Count your blessings, name them one by one.”
Even during this pandemic, there are so many blessings of life that follow us every day. In the United States of America, we are particularly grateful for our freedom to worship, freedom to assemble, and the freedom to disagree politically. We are blessed in Arkansas with an amazing geography that adds beauty to our lives each day. The fall foliage continues to be one of the most beautiful I have seen in recent years. We are blessed to have the beauty of our hill country and the unique Delta sunrises. I am thankful for my family and friends who are there with me through thick and thin.
But Thanksgiving week means it’s also Arkansas Turkey Week, which gives me another opportunity to pose for pictures with a 4-H turkey on the front steps of the capitol while I talk about Arkansas’s poultry industry.
Arkansas’s poultry business includes turkeys, broilers, and eggs. Poultry leads Arkansas’s agricultural sector with total cash receipts of $4.5 billion, which is 52 percent of state agricultural cash receipts. The Arkansas turkey industry creates and supports nearly 20,000 jobs in Arkansas.
Arkansas raises an average of 30 million turkeys per year, which is about 576 million pounds of protein, the third-largest number of turkeys in the nation.
Kenny and Dolly are two of the Arkansas turkeys raised this year. They come from a noble line. They are the fourth and fifth turkeys that sisters Victoria and Kristin Lehmann have raised and brought to the capitol for Arkansas Turkey Week. Penny, Nellie, and Gertrude came the first three years, and this year they brought two new turkeys.
As usual, they showed their turkeys at the fair, with everybody wearing masks and keeping their distance. They gave away many of their turkeys, which will be just about the perfect size for Thursday.
Victoria is a freshman in animal science at the University of Arkansas. She is on the pre-vet track. Kristin is a junior at Nemo-Vista High School.
As the official ambassadors for Arkansas turkeys, Kenny and Dolly won’t suffer the fate of thousands of their kin on Thanksgiving Day. They are back at the farm with the sisters and their parents, living a life of turkey royalty.