Collinsville’s Historic Turkey Trot: A Day of Family Fun

​Collinsville’s Historic Turkey Trot: A Day of Family Fun

By Kerry Scott

Nestled in the heart of Northeast Alabama, the charming town of Collinsville is where history comes to life and the spirit of community thrives. If you’ve never had the pleasure of visiting this delightful town, the annual Collinsville Turkey Trot is the perfect reason to make your way there. On November 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Collinsville will once again play host to this beloved event, a day filled with live music, entertainment, delicious food, and a unique tradition that dates back over a century. So put on your walking shoes and prepare to spend the day.

Little River Burgers and Brews pimento cheese bacon burger

A historic tradition revived

The Collinsville Turkey Trot is not just another run-of-the-mill festival; it’s a cherished event with a deep-rooted history. Originally conceived in 1912 as a promotional stunt by the Oliver Hall Company, a prominent general store in the area, the trot attracted people from all around Collinsville and beyond. The spectacle involved releasing turkeys, guineas, and chickens from a scaffold perched atop the Hall’s store. The eager crowd scrambled to catch a bird that would eventually grace their Thanksgiving dinner tables.

Today’s Turkey Trot has a different twist: Instead of live turkeys, Beanie Baby turkeys are tossed from the rooftop of a downtown business. Lucky folks who catch these toy turkeys can trade them in for a frozen bird, a more modern and humane approach. Beyond being a fun and quirky event, the Turkey Trot is a major fundraising activity that supports the restoration of the historic Cricket Theatre, a true Collinsville treasure.

A day of family-friendly fun

The Turkey Trot is a family-friendly event that offers something for all ages. Here’s what you can look forward to on this memorable day:

  • Antique car show: Admire vintage automobiles and connect with fellow car enthusiasts.
  • Arts and crafts: Discover local artisans and their unique creations.
  • Food vendors: Satisfy your tastebuds with a wide variety of options.
  • Carnival: Purchase a wristband for only $10 and ride to your heart’s content.
  • Silent auction: Bid on incredible items from local vendors and artists, and you might just snag a fantastic prize.
  • Paw parade: Don’t miss this delightful parade sure to thrill all pet lovers.
  • Petting zoo and pony rides: Get up close and personal with friendly animals.
  • Live music and dance performances: Enjoy the sounds of Ronnie Osborn’s band, Still Kickin’, and performances by John Sells and the Chris Roberts School of Music.
  • Train exhibit: Stop by the library to see the Wills Valley Model Train Exhibit.
  • Cornhole tourney: Watch the competition hosted by the Collinsville Fire Department.

The day kicks off with an opening ceremony at 10 a.m., where local veterans will be honored, along with Jimmy and Tangy Carter, the couple credited with bringing the Turkey Trot back in 2001 after a multiyear hiatus.

Exploring Collinsville’s rich history

Beyond the Turkey Trot, Collinsville is home to a wealth of historical and cultural attractions to explore. Here are some highlights:

  • Museum of Collinsville History: Open Wednesday through Friday from 1-4 p.m., the museum is a treasure trove of local history and artifacts.
  • Historical markers: Take a self-guided tour and learn about the town’s significant landmarks.
  • Collinsville Trade Day: Open year-round, this massive outdoor market offers an astonishing array of goods, from antiques and collectibles to fresh produce and more.

If you’re planning to return to Collinsville after the trot, make sure to visit the Cricket Theatre, which was lovingly restored in 2010. The Alabama Arts Council’s recent grant promises an exciting four-part concert series in 2024, featuring jazz, gospel, bluegrass, and Latino music.

During the Turkey Trot, a special exhibit will be on display in the “war room” at the Museum of Collinsville History, paying tribute to the service of local veterans.

Collinsville’s Turkey Trot is a celebration of tradition, community, and fun. It’s a day that promises to transport you back in time while giving you a taste of the present. Come for the turkey toss, stay for the history, and leave with lasting memories. We encourage you to visit Collinsville, not just for the Turkey Trot but to immerse yourself in a town where the past and present coexist harmoniously. You’ll find something to love, something to learn, and something to cherish in this remarkable place.