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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release November 24, 1999
                     The Rose Garden, The White House

                             November 24, 1999

On Wednesday, November 24, the National Turkey Federation (NTF) will present President Clinton with the 1999 National Thanksgiving Day Turkey in the Rose Garden. Continuing a tradition begun by President Truman in 1947, President Clinton will give a presidential pardon to the National Thanksgiving Day Turkey.

This year's National Thanksgiving Day Turkey, "Harry" will be presented by NTF Chairman Jim Rieth and NTF President Stuart Proctor. The turkey will be handled during the ceremony by Doug Rieth, Jim Rieth's son.

The 1999 National Thanksgiving Turkey was hatched approximately 31 weeks ago and raised near Willmar, MN. For the first 18 weeks of its life, it remained with a flock of commercial turkeys and was grown using standard turkey production techniques. During that time, Jim Rieth, Chairman of the NTF, supervised the turkeys.

At 18 weeks, a group of five tom (male) turkeys were separated from the flock and sent to the farm of Harry Meyer, where they had the run of a brooder house. While on the Meyer Farm, the birds were raised using a normal commercial production feed mix and received special attention from the Meyer family. Approximately two weeks before the White House ceremony, NTF Chairman Rieth selected the National Thanksgiving Turkey and an alternate, "Troy," from among the five turkeys on the Meyer Farm. Both birds were flown to Washington, DC for the White House event. The National Thanksgiving Turkey and the alternate turkey both weigh approximately 60 pounds.

The event will take place before an audience that includes members from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington and Horton's Kids.

The National Thanksgiving Day Turkey and the alternate will be taken to Kidwell Farm in Herndon, Virginia. Kidwell Farm, at Frying Pan Park, is operated by the Fairfax County Parks Department and is a replica of a 1930s working farm. The birds will reside at the farm with National Thanksgiving Turkeys and alternates from ceremonies of previous years.