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'Name that Thanksgiving turkey' contest under way

Willmar, MN - Minnesota residents have an opportunity to submit name suggestions for a pair of turkeys that are being raised in order to be presented to President Obama later this month. The top names will be submitted to the White House to be considered for naming the 2011 National Thanksgiving Turkeys.

Contestants will be asked to submit two names, one for the National Thanksgiving Turkey and another for his alternate, who will also make the trip to Washington. Names may be submitted November 1st -10th on the Presidential Turkey website: (Contest is only open to Minnesota residents ages 13 and over.)

From November 11th - 15th the public will be able to vote on their favorite pair of names on Minnesota Turkey's Facebook site: Simply log into Facebook, search for "Minnesota Turkey" and click "like" prior to casting your vote. The 10 most popular sets of names from the Facebook voting will be forwarded to the White House for consideration when naming the National Thanksgiving Turkey.

Past names for the turkeys include: "Pumpkin and Pecan," "May and Flower," Marshmallow and Yamy." Last year's names were "Apple and Cider." Final name selection of the National Thanksgiving Turkey and his alternate rests in the hands of President Obama and his family.

The turkeys are being raised on behalf of National Turkey Federation (NTF) Chairman Rick Huisinga, an executive with Willmar Poultry Company, on a farm near Willmar, Minn. If invited, the turkeys will be presented to the President by Huisinga and his family. NTF anticipates an official invitation will come sometime after November 1.

The birds are cared for specifically by a group of four FFA (formerly known as Future Farmers of America) students from Willmar Area High School, with help from Willmar Poultry Company employees.

The turkeys are being raised just like any turkey flock in Minnesota. The birds eat a wholesome, nutritious mix of Minnesota-raised corn and soybeans, along with vitamins and minerals. The birds also have access to fresh water 24-7 and live in comfortable surroundings that protect them from bad weather and potential predators. The only difference with this flock is that they are provided increased interaction with people so that, if chosen, any of the birds will be prepared for his role at the White House ceremony.

The annual presentation of the National Thanksgiving Turkey to the President has become a highly anticipated ritual in the nation's Capital, signaling the unofficial beginning of the holiday season and providing the president an opportunity to reflect publicly on the meaning of Thanksgiving.