Dakota Datebook

Poultry Day

Friday, November 16, 2007

It’s easy to tell when the holiday season starts. Stores are filled with holiday trimmings. Rosy-cheeked school kids count down the days between holiday breaks. Bright orange and green pumpkins and bags of candy melt away to fir trees, lights and ornaments.
What was that? Did someone hear the lone gobble of a Turkey, followed by the thud of an ax? Oh, yeah—Thanksgiving.
At least, that’s the attitude of some people, and some businesses. America’s annual day of over-eating tends to get lost in the hustle and bustle. But Thanksgiving wasn’t always forgotten!
On this day in Hebron in 1935, residents and guests from far and wide geared up for Thanksgiving by celebrating Poultry Day.
A giant ad in the Hebron Herald promised farmers they would receive full value for their summer’s hard work. All kinds of poultry were welcome—chickens, ducks, geese, and especially Turkey, the king of the season, headed the list. As a special extra, prizes were offered to the farmer who brought his poultry the farthest and to the farmer who earned the most money with his poultry.
The day’s entertainment was provided at the Lyceum Theatre, which offered specially priced show times at 1:30 for 10 cents and at 3:15 for 15 cents.
As usual, merchants were behind this holiday promotion. Poultry Day was set up by a committee working on plans for an annual Market day. The committee realized that if farmers wanted to get poultry to “the big markets” before Thanksgiving, they would have to be shipped within a few days’ time, and so they arranged this day around what they thought seemed to be the best time for the poultry raisers.
Regrettably, once the committee figured this out, there was only a little time for advertising, as the Herald let everyone know. The big ad calling for poultry caused problems in the printing of the paper. “The Herald as usual had to go to press last night, and the page ad was brought in shortly after noon, causing considerable other matter to be left out…” the Herald reported.
The Herald also assured poultry farmers that nothing could hinder Poultry Day, stating that “Poultry raisers [could] be assured of the fact that they [would] be treated right when they [came] in Saturday.”
And, of course, poultry raisers were also encouraged to “make the rounds” of the businesses sponsoring the event, which included the Sweet shop, the First National Bank, Arrow Creameries, the Ahl & Dassinger Barber Shop, and the Hebron Herald.
Other Turkey news, coming from Bismarck, let poultry raisers know that reduced rates on poultry shipping from North Dakota to the East finally went into effect in the beginning of November, about a month after it was originally supposed to. Though later than expected, these cheaper prices meant easier shipping and more orders in time for Thanksgiving.
Poultry Day gave “Market Day” a Thanksgiving makeover in 1935. And the merchants and businesses gave Thanks for the celebration and sales they could bring to the season.
Wishing you and yours a great big Turkey in the upcoming week.
-Sarah Walker
“The Hebron Herald,” Thursday, November 14th, 1935
p. 1 and 4

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Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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