Monday, October 15, 2007

Ozark Festivals

I was very excited last week to attend the Turkey Trot Festival in my new adopted hometown of Yellville, Arkansas. I was more excited when I started researching the origins of the festival, which began in 1949 as a way to bring attention to the fact that wild turkeys were being hunted to near extinction in Arkansas at that time. The festival is the longest running annual festival in Arkansas and boasts the largest turkey calling contest in the country.
I had visions of pitching the festival, with different angles, to a magazine that highlights such festivals and a birding conservation magazine.
That is, until I discovered that during the festivities, they drop live turkeys from planes to "fly, glide, or plummet to the ground" (in the local newspaper's words). If the birds are lucky enough to regain their senses after being dropped from the sky, they are chased down by local children, caught and brought back to a cheering crowd on the square looking "confused, if not somewhat relieved."
To be fair, the practice hasn't been sanctioned by the local chamber for 13 years, but someone still does it and someone still pays for the barbaric practice - something that I'm sure the magazines wouldn't appreciate (and neither did I).
Just goes to show that the biggest lesson in writing I've learned is that you don't really know what the story is until you get there - or if there will even be one.
So, my querying goals changed before I even made it to Monday morning and now I have to find other stories to pitch.
I did hear a hoot owl hooting this morning in our backyard when I took our dogs out in the pre-dawn hours.
There must be at least an essay in that.


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