Dayton Kicks Off Holiday Week With A Pair Of Turkeys

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton kicked off Thanksgiving week with some help with two fine, feathered friends. A pair of turkeys joined in on the festivities at the State Capitol on Monday, both about 16 weeks old.

Dayton did not pardon the birds, joking that only the President of the United States has that authority. While patting one of the 20-pound live turkeys, Dayton said it was “already doomed.”

It was said, though, that those two turkeys would be enough to feed 40 to 50 people.

The agriculture commissioner, turkey farmers and Hunger Solutions Minnesota also joined Dayton to encourage people to give to local food shelves.

So far, 2014 has been a good year for turkey farmers. Authorities said the price of turkey is up while the price of feed is down, which translates to higher revenue. This year is also the 75th anniversary of the Turkey Growers Association.

John Gorton, president of the Turkey Growers Association, said that the organization would be donating 11,500 pounds of turkey worth $13,000 this holiday season, which would provide enough meat to feed 14,500.

Minnesota farmers raise 46 million turkeys every year — nearly one-fifth of all those grown in the United States — and that in turn supports 26,000 jobs and pumps $800 million into the economy.

Meanwhile, crews were hard at work Monday morning to set up a 50-foot Christmas tree at Dayton’s official residence.

The balsam fir was harvested from the Nemadji State Forest, about 115 miles northeast of the Twin Cities.

Crews said finding the perfect tree is not an easy task. It has to have symmetrical branches, no noticeable gaps and a gradual taper.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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