Presidential Turkey Pardoning

By Maddison Meeks

The Presidential pardoning of the turkey came to be a tradition in American culture after Henry Vose, a turkey farmer, presented a turkey to the president every year from 1873 to 1913. This showed respect and support to the president from the agricultural community.

There’s not direct documentation of how the ceremony itself came into existence, but it was under President Truman in 1947. This spurred under a lobbying campaign with “Meatless Tuesday” and “Poultryless Thursday.”



There is evidence in the Eisenhower Presidential Library stating that good ol’ Ike ate two of the turkeys presented to him. JFK  was given a turkey only 4 days before his assassination and decided to spare its life. The turkey was presented to him with a sign around its neck that read “Good Eating Mr. President.”




Ronald Reagan, a conservative favorite, was the first president to officially pardon his turkeys. He was known for sending them to petting zoos instead of serving them on a platter.

Jeff Sveen moved up to the Chairman of the National Turkey Federation this year. He serves as Chairman of the Dakota Provisions Turkey Processing plant in Huron and was voted on to the national board a few years ago.  Each year the chairman selects the Turkey. This is the first time from South Dakota.



Rueben Waldner of Riverside Colony was selected to raise the turkeys. He started with 50 poults and narrowed them down to Peas and Carrots, which were named by the White House at the Willard Hotel, prior to the event.



“As President of the SD Poultry Industries Association, I was honored to be asked by Jeff Sveen to join the group presenting the Turkey to the President,” Bob Drake told Expressions.

On November 20th, President Donald Trump was presented with Peas, a 39-pound turkey from South Dakota. The event took place in the Rose Garden on the White House Lawn. Trump noted that Peas beat out Carrots in the election process, but to show that we need to be civil in our democratic processes, he opted to pardon both of them. They will live out the rest of their days Gobblers Rest at Virginia Tech and will receive care from the poultry sciences students. The President also urged the country to be thankful for the service of all of our military members serving this holiday season. They are sacrificing their lives and time away from their loved ones to ensure that we all are granted freedom and the liberties that set us apart from all other nations.



Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving, from all of us at Expressions Magazine!


Photos Courtesy of Regan Bieber


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