The Turkey Rama X Factor

By Nathan Knottingham


Photo Credits: Chuck Hillestad

Photo Credits: Chuck Hillestad

When it came to math in school I didn’t understand calculus, but did pretty well in algebra.  I was okay solving for one or two variables, but when you throw in proofs and weird symbols I just got lost.  The idea from algebra that we could know an outcome, but not know exactly why we got the outcome, resonated with me as a student.  Before the show made the term “X Factor” popular in the media we were talking about it in class.  An X Factor is a variable in a given situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome.

Be it weather or attendance, human nature or popularity, X Factors change and can greatly affect the outcome.  So when people ask how Turkey Rama was, what my first Turkey Rama impressions were, and did I like to eat the Turkey I feel they are really asking: “What was the X Factor that you found, what surprised you about Turkey Rama?”

Molly Walker did a great article in the News-Register (Community support shines in Turkey Rama) about the event and the community connections that make it happen.  But I would add more to the story, so in the immortal words of Paul Harvey, “And now for the rest of the story.”

Turkey Rama wouldn’t be what it is without some key companies and volunteers.  For starters the fellow who takes off a whole week to prepare for the cooking of the birds is Rick McEvoy.  He’s an unsung hero in my opinion, partly from his own doing (he dodges a mic faster than the Road Runner escapes Wile E. Coyote traps) and partly because he works tirelessly behind the scenes making sure everything is ready for scrumptious barbecued turkey.  Rick is the branch manager of Columbia Bank on Adams and 8th street.  But you would think that with his love of Turkey BBQ-ing he might have another hobby lined up for the future.  Rick is an X Factor for the Turkey Rama BBQ.  Without him setting up and organizing all the volunteers to season the birds, rack them just right, set the briquettes, and the other 100+ jobs to do the turkeys may never be cooked on time.

The cooking crew of the BBQ starts around 10pm with the waning summer light.  They douse the briquettes in lighter fluid, send a match flying, and prepare to grill 5 TONS of turkey in about 15 hours.  The McMinnville Elks Lodge #1283 has been cooking the turkeys a long time.  A crew of Elks stay up all night stoking the fire, flipping the grills, temping the birds, and finally pull the first flock off around 3 in the morning.  And they stay until all the turkeys are cooked around 1pm or later.  The Elks are an X Factor for the Turkey Rama BBQ. If they didn’t stay up all night cooking then who would?

Another X Factor is Oregon Mutual Insurance.  Before they stepped up to host the Carnival it was a roaming nomad with no real place to call home.  Steve Patterson and others saw the need, opened the idea that the carnival could be in their parking lot, and then did it.  Since I wasn’t here before for other Turkey Rama events I can’t imagine the carnival anywhere else, or the feel of Turkey Rama without the carnival downtown.  Maybe OMI isn’t just an X Factor for Turkey Rama because we know what the alternative is without their generous donation; but no matter we are thankful that they host the Carnival in their parking lot and make it part of the greater celebration.

There are many other “X Factors” for Turkey Rama and the Turkey BBQ.  And each one of them has a name, an identity in the community, and a love for their town.  The Chamber tries to thank them personally and publicly, but it is never enough.  If you were working with us this past Turkey Rama (and the many before) know that you are invaluable to the event, to the community, and to your Chamber of Commerce.  Turkey Rama would be just another street fair and BBQ if it wasn’t for the community members that serve to host our town and guests.

It is possible that the key to Turkey Rama’s success does look a lot like the Quadratic Equation in calculus but I think I might be able to simplify it, I think it looks like this: X= 1 Amazing Turkey Rama.  Thank you to all of the volunteers, companies who sponsored and donated, and community members who partook of the festivities.  We can’t wait until next year to do it all again!

UPDATE: Right after I published this it came to mind that with weather in the high 90 degrees that day we were all VERY thirsty.  James Vander Meide with Coastal Mountain Springs donated gallons and gallons of water for Turkey Trot and the Turkey BBQ to keep us all hydrated.  He even let us use these amazing pump things that attached to the jugs and worked like a charm.  Thank you James for being another important X Factor, one that affected the health of our volunteers and participants!

Here is a list (as complete as we have, but please forgive us if we missed you) of all the volunteers that helped this year:

Individuals Work Crews
Adele O’Neal Bethel Baptist Church
Arlen Pounds Elks Lodge #1283
Austin Warner Freelin-Wade
Beth Acededo Cascade Steel Rolling Mills
BJ Barlow Yamhill County Corrections
Brenda Fries Yamhill County Public Works
Carla Schrock
Carolyn Tomlinson
Chase Doyel
Connor O’Neil
Dale Tomlinson
David Bertram
Deanna Benson
Dennis Goecks
Deserae Briskey
Don Longenecker
Don Lutz
Francine Fiore
Garret Glen
Gene Menke
Heather Simpson
Holly Nehls
Hope Rosen
Ingo Nehls
Jessica Chance
John Cramer
Johnny Salvador
Jon Gross
Karen Jones
Karley Cramer
Kate Gunness
Kaylee Johnson
Kellie Menke
Kevin Benson
Laura Egle
Lucetta Elmer
Mare Suddarth
Mark Pauletto
Marlena Bertram
Marlene Tebo
Marna Porath
Masa Confer
Michelle Stittles
Nan Cramer
Pattie Warner
Phil Tiemann
Ruth Goecks
Sam Justice
Sebastion Shoun
Sherry McConkey
Steve Patterson
Stevie Whited
Susan Brown
Travis Jones
Wes Thomas