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on November 11, 2014

Cooper Farms raising National Thanksgiving Turkey

Turkey to be pardoned by President Obama will be presented by NTF Chairman Gary Cooper

Cooper Farms, Fort Recovery, Ohio, is raising the National Thanksgiving Turkey that’s expected to be presented to President Barack Obama. The presentation of the National Thanksgiving Turkey to the president is bestowed each year upon the individual serving as chairman of the National Turkey Federation (NTF). Gary Cooper, chief operating officer of Cooper Farms, is the current NTF chairman.

The presentation of the National Thanksgiving Turkey to the president of the United States is an annual White House tradition that occurs the week of Thanksgiving. The presentation of the National Thanksgiving Turkey began when President Harry Truman received a turkey as a gift from NTF. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush remarked that he was “pardoning” the turkey, beginning a custom followed by presidents at the end of each presentation ceremony.

“The Cooper family is proud to have the opportunity to be part of this time-honored tradition,” said Cooper. “As a family-owned farm, we take great pride in the turkeys we raise.”

Gary Cooper’s youngest son, Cole, has been raising a flock of approximately 20 birds in a custom-built red barn at his home in Mercer County, Ohio, since July, when the turkeys were hatched. The barn was designed as a smaller version of one of the original farms owned by Virgil Cooper, founder of Cooper Farms and Gary Cooper’s father.

The “family” essence is a quintessential part of Cooper Farms and very important to the Cooper family. Raising the turkeys has truly been a family affair, involving not only the Coopers, but also much of the company’s team.

“It was a great honor for my dad to ask me to raise the presidential turkey flock,” said Cole Cooper. “This is my heritage. It is what my grandpa started and is what I grew up with, as I watched my dad, aunt and uncle expand Cooper Farms into what it is today.”

Cooper Farms will hand-select two tom turkeys for the special national honor. One will serve as the National Thanksgiving Turkey and the second as an alternate. 

Presidential turkey presentation coincides with NTF, Cooper Farms’ 75th anniversary

Four different breeds of turkeys are represented in the presidential flock to celebrate NTF’s 75th anniversary and Cooper Farms being in business for just more than 75 years. The variety of birds has also offered a unique opportunity for Cooper Farms to educate elementary students from across Ohio. Since October, Cooper Farms has hosted and visited more than 3,000 students from the local community. These visits have helped get the turkeys accustomed to large audiences and have let students meet the soon-to-be famous presidential flock. 

Name the presidential turkeys

Americans are invited to submit name suggestions for the two turkeys during a national naming contest that began November 5, 2014. Ideas may be submitted on the Ohio Poultry Association website. The final decision on names for the National Thanksgiving Turkey and an alternate will be made by President Obama, his family and the White House staff.

Individuals are also encouraged to follow #PresidentialTurkey14 on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to see photos and videos of the turkeys as they grow and prepare for their trip to Washington, D.C. 

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