In the annual event that has come to signify the official kickoff to the holiday season, a pair of tom turkeys hatched and raised in Rockingham County by Cargill are heading to Washington, D.C. as the 2012 National Thanksgiving turkeys that will be pardoned by President Barack Obama in a November 21 White House ceremony.  

Each year, the White House works with the National Turkey Federation to facilitate the event, with the current year’s chairman determining where the turkeys come from. “This year, Cargill has collaborated with the Virginia Poultry Federation, National Turkey Federation and one of the company’s family farmers to raise turkeys for presentation to the White House," said 2012 Chairman Steve Willardsen. 

Two tom turkeys weighing approximately 40 pounds each will be given a celebratory send-off to Washington, D.C., from West Rockingham Ruritan Park on November 19, and will spend two nights at the W Hotel in D.C. prior to being pardoned at the White House the day before Thanksgiving. The pardoned turkeys, whose names will be selected by the White House, will then reside at the George and Martha Washington estate in Mount Vernon, Va.