Many annual traditions have understandably had to be postponed in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But luckily, the presentation of the National Thanksgiving Turkey will not be one of them.

Representatives of the National Turkey Federation (NTF) and Iowa Turkey Federation (ITF) are in Washington, D.C. now as they prepare to present the National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate to the president of the United States. It is the 73rd year for the occasion.

NTF Chairman Ron Kardel along with his wife, Susie, raised this year’s presidential turkeys on the Walcott, Iowa, farm that has been in the Kardel family since the 1850s. He spoke at a special ceremony on November 23, where those turkeys, who walked nobly on a carpet in front of the podium and were the only ones shown not wearing masks, were introduced.

“I think this event is great today, because Lord knows 2020 has been a little challenged, whether it’s COVID, whether its fires, whether its economic turmoil, I think it’s great to celebrate something that’s happy, something that’s for everybody, something that’s for all of America,” said Kardel, who is also a grower and vice chairman for West Liberty Foods. “This is a fun deal and it’s fun for us.”

The two turkeys that will be presented to President Donald Trump later this week are named Corn and Cob, names Kardel said were fitting because they came from Iowa. A public vote will determine which of the two turkeys becomes the National Thanksgiving Turkey, and which is the alternate.

The event where the turkeys were introduced was webcast through a livestream on YouTube.

After the pardon

Ever since the George H.W. Bush administration, the turkeys brought to the White House for the National Thanksgiving Turkey celebration have been granted a “pardon,” and did not become part of a Thanksgiving dinner. This year will be no exception.

Greta Irwin, executive director of the ITF, said Corn and Cob will return to their home state of Iowa, and will live out the rest of their years at Kardel’s alma mater, Iowa State University.

“These turkeys will have an opportunity to interact with students in the animal science department, in the veterinary department, and just have an opportunity to represent themselves and the industry in Iowa. We’re very excited to give the students at Iowa State University an opportunity to have a first-hand experience with these turkeys,” Irwin said.