BONNERS FERRY — “Three … two … one …,” organizer Carolyn Testa counted down at in the parking lot of the Boundary County Fairgrounds on Thanksgiving morning.
The countdown was followed by 121 people gobbling like turkeys, a sound that could be heard as far away as the Kootenai River, and then they were off on the 11th running of the Turkey Trot, a 5K/10K fun run.
The air was crisp, the sun was out, and the smiles on children’s faces and wagging of dog tails echoed the jolly atmosphere of the event.
The annual fun run drew a large crowd of participants, raising money and gathered food for Community Action Partnership (CAP), a local organization that provides assistance and food for those in need within Boundary County.
Jessica Tingley designs the T-shirts every year as her donation to the event, and this year’s bold design stood out, like a sea of turkey eyes and beaks on the participants who wore them proudly.
“It’s an incredibly generous gift,” said Testa. “Each year when she runs her new design idea by me, I just respond with — I’ve never seen a design of yours I didn’t like.”
The sales of the shirts earned $239 for CAP this year. People also gave generously, and the Turkey Trot ended up with five large barrels of food to donate to CAP as well.
A fun new addition this year was costumes, with many people dressing for the occasion, from police officers in tutus to a cow holding a sign instructing people to “eat turkey.”
“I actually forgot to draw all the costume people upfront for applause,” said Testa. “So I ended up giving some T-shirts to David Brinkman, Nikki Weaver, Lauren Bartoe, and a mini mouse. But next year I will have them upfront and award a prize buy a round of applause.”
Testa purchased twelve pies, frozen turkeys, hot cocoa, and marshmallows that were available for the participants. The run/walk gave them the perfect excuse to indulge in dessert before Thanksgiving dinner.
Door prizes for the event were donated by people and businesses, including Hank Willis, Jason Van Etten, Iron Mike’s Gym, Riverside Auto, ET Wireless, Under The Sun, Lael Alexander, Keep in Touch by Alicia Braden, Ronnie’s Hair Salon, The Pearl Theater, and Auburn Crest Hospice.
The event also relies on volunteers each year.
“I couldn’t manage the race anywhere near as easily without my A-team of volunteers,” said Testa.
Jim Cadnum marks the course every year, Lauren Bartoe and Amy Lane set up the water station and make the cocoa. Chet Savage brought the jugs and containers for the food bank, Kathy Kobes and Don Jordan handled the T-shirt donations and prize board, and Dave Braden and Paul Bonnell set up the course and time the runners.
“It truly takes a village,” said Testa.
Many people have returned to participate in the event, and it has become a reunion of sorts, with people happily greeting each other and remarking that they hadn’t seen each other since the Turkey trot last year. Elaine Wheatley was one of the participants that has returned every year.
“I love that it is a community event,” said Wheatley. “I would like to thank the people that organize it too, because it is a lot of work. I appreciate that — even if it is snowing or raining — the volunteers are still out putting on this event.”
For others, this was the first time that they had joined in.
“I just thought it would be fun. It is my first time doing it,” said Jennifer Van Etten. “Besides that, I’ve got to change it up. I’m in a rut — a turkey rut.”
Some people participated in groups, like the first-time group from the City of Bonners Ferry.
“The City staff enjoyed coming together to show our spirit for the community and support such a great cause such as the local food bank,” said Lisa Ailport, city administrator. “We hope this will become an annual event for us to participate in together. My family enjoyed the event so much we talked about it all the way back home.”
“My absolute favorite part of the race is seeing everyone mingling together after coming in from their run,” said Testa. “Music is playing, some people are gathered around the burn barrel, and everyone has a plate of pie in their hand — all talking about the run.”