Chris Higbee
Chris Higbee is one of the headliners at this year’s Wild Turkey Festival, May 7-10 in McArthur (photo provided)

Plans For Wild Turkey Festival Nearly Set

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There is no “returning back to normal” for the Wild Turkey Festival a year after the all-out 30th anniversary, organizers hope, as more entertainment and other events continue to be finalized for 2015.

This year’s festival is scheduled for Thursday, May 7 through Sunday, May 10. The festival committee has already announced two main acts: KISS tribute band Mr. SPEED will return to headline on Friday night and Chris Higbee will headline Saturday night.

Opening for Mr. SPEED will be Junkyard Republic, a Vinton County-based band featuring Aaron Chesser, Andy Allman, Mike Claar and Jeromy Rupert. Hayley Watson is scheduled to perform first that Friday night and will also be featured Thursday night for her traditional festival opening.

Other confirmed performances include Vinton County band 4 This Cause returning to the festival on Sunday afternoon. Members include Jesse Reynolds, Aaron Bledsoe, Ron Sowers, Daniel Thacker and Josh Moles.

As of now, there are a few more question marks on the entertainment schedule: finding acts for Thursday night and filling in an hour slot on Saturday night. The committee hopes to book Eastwood for Saturday night and possibly other tribute bands or local bands for Thursday.

Some other events are in the works as well. The turkey calling contest is returning to the festival and will likely be held early Saturday at the VFW Hall or somewhere else indoors. The plan is to have winner(s) featured in that night’s Grand Parade making turkey calls throughout the village streets.

Then there are plans for a frozen turkey toss on Sunday. The goal in recent years has been to incorporate more turkey-themed activities to the festival; local organizers have discussed hosting a hunting and outdoors exposition in McArthur a few years down the road to draw more visitors to Vinton County.

The traditional karaoke contest will host preliminary rounds on May 3 at 6 p.m. at Vinton County High School, with the finals at the festival on Saturday.

There are other festival events in the works, some related to Mother’s Day which will fall on that Sunday (some at the committee meeting suggested a Mother-Daughter Look-alike contest, which The Courier offered to help judge). One idea was to have a Mother’s Day booth selling flowers and gift baskets for the whole weekend.

Lake Hope State Park Naturalist John Hickenbottom is expected to showcase his affinity with snakes and other animals at some point at the festival.

Last year often turned reflective as part of the festival’s 30th anniversary. This time, the same will happen for McArthur as the village celebrates its bicentennial throughout 2015. There is a special presentation for the village birthday scheduled for Thursday and the committee is trying to get a large banner honoring the occasion to place behind the stage.

The goal is to eventually hoist said banner above the main intersection for the rest of 2015.

The pageant dates are set as well, though local teenagers have plenty of time to prepare. Orientations are scheduled for April 19 and 26, the first date being the deadline to register.

Chris Cram, who organizes the queen’s contest, said those interested in participating can pick up an informational packet at the high school. Anyone is invited to show up to the April 19 orientation, he said.

The pageant itself is slated for Saturday, May 7 at p.m. at the high school. Crowning will take place a week later following the Grand Parade.