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Ivey grants full pardons in 75th annual Turkey Pardoning ceremony

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – For the 75th year, two turkeys were spared from becoming a Thanksgiving feast Monday morning after Gov. Kay Ivey granted the two birds a full pardon in what has become an annual Alabama tradition.

Dubbed the Turkey Pardoning ceremony, the event saw two turkeys presented to Ivey on the lawn of the Governor’s Mansion in Montgomery. For decades, the two turkeys were given the names Clyde and Henrietta, though this year, they were named Giblet and Puddin’ by Alabamians as the result of an online poll.

Gov. Kay Ivey stands before the newly-pardoned turkey.

The two turkeys were presented to Ivey by Rebecca Bates Sloane, who helps run Bates Turkey Farm in Lowndes County, opened in 1923.  That farm, Sloane said, was itself saved by poultry.

“My great-great aunt gave my granddaddy and grandmother 9 turkey eggs for a wedding present; that Thanksgiving was the first year that turkeys were sold on Bates Farm for a profit,” Sloane said. 

“Then the depression hit, and 1938, my grandmother and grand daddy had to mortgage 200 turkeys for $75 to pay the property tax so they wouldn’t lose the farm, so more or less you could say that the turkeys saved the day. Now, 100 years later, we’re still producing turkeys for the holiday table.”

Poultry is Alabama’s second largest agricultural industry, behind only forestry, with close to 3,000 poultry producers across the state. 

People don’t realize what an economic engine the poultry industry is for rural Alabama,” said Rick Pate, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture. 

“If we lost the poultry industry in rural Alabama, you’d need to start building apartments in town because there’d be a lot of people that would have to move. It holds up a lot of our rural communities, and we’re just proud there’re such good corporate citizens in Alabama, and proud to have them here.”

Taking the podium, Ivey noted that when the first turkey was pardoned in Alabama, President Harry Truman was in office, and that he opted to not spare the bird, instead noting that it may “come in handy” for a Christmas dinner. Ivey noted, however, that “fortunately, the same end is not guaranteed for our pair of Alabama fowl.”

“After much consideration on their backgrounds, I believe I have reached the appropriate decisions,” Ivey proclaimed. 

“Today, by the powers vested in me as governor of the state of Alabama, I hereby am granting a full pardon to Giblet and Puddin’ so that they can spend their turkey day enjoying a meal of their own. It’s my wish that they live a long and happy life with their friends in the fields of Lowndes County.”


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