Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Poplar Spring Thanksgiving WITH The Turkeys, 2011

Tilly and Cosette, drinking directly from the hose!

This past Saturday was the annual Thanksgiving WITH The Turkeys even at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary. Terry estimates that about 800 people came, based on the number of cars. Seriously, the worlds largest vegan potluck.

Tilly and Cosette were big hits, as expected. Victor, old man that he is, was having a great time, strutting his stuff and displaying for the crowd. He knew in the morning that it was this special day. I don’t know how they know, but they always seem to!

Victor and Gertrude, awaiting the festivities

We were pretty lucky again this year with the weather. Sunny and in the 50’s…not as nice as last year, when it got up to 70, but compared to the years when it’s been windy and in the 30’s, it’s hard to complain about sunny and 50’s!

We had help spreading hay in the pig barn...

Will Tuttle, author of the World Peace Diet, came to talk this year. We don’t usually have a speaker at this event, and it’s not really set up as a speaker event, but from my station in the chicken yard I could hear his voice so I’m sure the people at the tables and in line for the food could hear him. He seemed to have people coming up to him to talk to him after his talk, so hopefully it was a good event for him too.

Tilly and Cosette showing off to the crowd while Terry talked

At the end of the event a couple guys in the gift shop raved about him – they’re long-time fans of Will Tuttle, went vegan because of him, and were in his first class to get certified as…instructors? I wasn’t aware that there was such a thing as instructors of the World Peace Diet! I haven’t read the book yet, so I’m only vaguely aware of what it’s about. They encouraged me to visit his website, though – does anyone else feel this way? – I don’t necessarily want to spend my time reading go-vegan books since I already *am* vegan. There are a lot of other books on topics I need to be exposed to and learn more on, and I don’t have time to read everything on my list as it is! However, it’s also important to know what go-vegan books are out there and what they say, so when it comes to recommending books for people, you are recommending the “right” ones for the individual.

There's always some table dancing early on...

A friend, Valerie, had come up from the Harrisonburg area with her family, and a friend and their family. There were about five young kids between them, and when I finally found Valerie at their table, I mentioned to the kids that they should come down to the chicken yard after they were done eating and I could make sure they’d be able to meet some of the chickens and turkeys. They took me up on that, and for a while there was a small crowd of at least 8 kids wanting to ask questions, and pet the chickens and turkeys. Kids are always so curious – what does the beak feel like? What does that stuff on their head (pointing to the comb if a chicken, the wattle if a turkey) feel like? And I always tell them to feel it for themselves.

One boy was petting Alvin, a sweet rooster, while I held him, and when he felt Alvin’s wing, he asked what it was. “That’s his wing,” I told him, and the boy recoiled a little. It puzzled me for a while – why would he act like I’d said a dirty word, or tricked him into doing something, when I told him he’d just touched a chicken’s wing? The look he gave me was one I’d interpret as betrayal. I turned it over and over in my head, and finally I concluded that he made the connection for the first time between the “wings” that people eat, and the wing of a bird. I think he really did feel betrayed.

Valerie’s oldest – maybe 8 years old now? – has been vegan her entire life, and she’s a very vocal advocate for veganism, despite that (or because?) she lives in an area where they don’t know any other vegans, or at least no other ethical vegans. Valerie told her daughter that everyone at the sanctuary for the Thanksgiving event was vegan, or aspiring vegan. This awed her daughter, who then tested the theory by asking everyone she saw if they were vegan. Everyone she asked was!

I also got to hang out with Shannon of Vegan Burnout and her husband. We walked up to the pig area together, and I showed them Izzy, who is one of the smaller pigs, though huge compared to the little bundle of cuteness who joined the festivities two years ago. But Izzy is still Izzy, so even though he was busy with his pumpkin eating, he grunted his greeting as I called his name.

The pigs enjoying their pumpkins

The pigs enjoying their pumpkins

I ended up helping in the gift shop after that, and was pleased to see that the calendars were selling quite well. There were only 10 left at the end of the day – not bad! Some people were even buying multiples.

Then it was time for the clean-up. It was pretty comical toward the end, we were gathering the clean chairs and leave the dirty ones to be wiped down the next day, except that we really couldn’t see anything. Out in the country, when the sun goes down it is *dark*! One of the staff put on her headlamp, and checked out the chairs for us. It felt like it was 9pm by the time we finished what we could, but it was only about 6pm.

Sunset...we were just getting started on the tables and chairs!

There was a guy videoing for…some show that I (naturally!) can’t remember the name of. He took a lot of footage of us cutting up the tofu and grapes and kale and bananas and melon for the turkeys’ table, and then a bunch of footage of the birds enjoying their table. He did an interview with Terry also, and maybe Will Tuttle as well? It will be online at some point, and I’ll be interested to see what he does with it!

Reading some of the comments people posted on the PSAS FB wall is really gratifying. This is the easiest event for us to put on, but it’s clear the impact is large. I think the overwhelming amount of vegan food is part of that – it’s hard to wonder what vegans eat, or feel like there’s any deprivation involved, when you’re staring table after overloaded table at a potluck for 800. One of the comments indicated that the experience “changed her life.” And so an aspiring vegan was born.


8 responses to “Poplar Spring Thanksgiving WITH The Turkeys, 2011

  1. Sheryl November 23, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Sorry I couldn’t stay for clean up this year but there was nothing else left to wipe my runny nose. It’s still peeling!

    Great post, see you in the morning.

  2. Valerie November 24, 2011 at 8:02 am

    It was a great day. So nice to see you and so many other vegans. The kids are all still talking about it. There was a man (clearly associated with the sanctuary) with a video camera who followed my kids for a while. Are there any decent pictures from that?

    Oh, and Helen just turned 9. I can hardly believe it.

    • Deb November 24, 2011 at 12:33 pm

      I can’t believe Helen is 9 already!

      The man videoing was from Voice of America. He took hours of footage, and will end up with a 2.5 minute clip. He’ll email Terry the link as soon as it is available – probably in the next couple of weeks, he thought.

  3. Provoked November 24, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Worlds largest vegan potluck. I like that! Now what are you going to do when you have 8,000 visitors? Smile lots I suppose!

    Lovely photos – Sounds like it was a beautiful event! Thanks for all you do! ❤

    • Deb November 24, 2011 at 12:35 pm

      8,000! I think we’d have to have people come in waves, I can’t even imagine the number of tables we’d need otherwise! We’d have to set up in the cow pasture! 😀

  4. Sandra November 25, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Looks like a great time!

    I have seen turkeys at the county fair, and some wild ones every now and then. They are magnificent birds. I used to hand-feed the ones at the fair, and they would take the corn right out of my palm, but never bit me once. Amazingly gentle!

  5. ☼Illuminary☼ November 28, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    It is so awesome to read that so many folks came out!
    I was just showing off your calendar to my SIL, and came to show her the story about the bunnies on the cover.
    This is awesome!
    she wishes they had a place like this near her!

    • Deb November 29, 2011 at 8:28 am

      Aw, that’s awesome! Maybe there is a place near her! I will try to find a listing of the ones around the country, though I’ve never found one that is actually complete…still better than nothing! 🙂

      Maybe someday you’ll make the trek up here!

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