Skip to main content

They Are the Champions: Turkey Show Tips From the Girls Who Know

Caroline Scarlett and Laura Jessup holding champion banners
Caroline Scarlett and Laura Jessup photo by Becky Scarlett

The 2019 Youth Market Turkey Show is just around the corner and youth all over the state are preparing to show their turkey hen. Participating is rewarding for the experience, but there’s also the lure of winning the show by having the bird that’s named Grand Champion or Reserve Grand Champion .

To help everyone get ready, we’re answering two big questions:

  1. What makes a champion turkey? This one’s simple (even if it isn’t easy): a careful mix of feed, environment and care.
  2. What about a champion turkey shower? That’s a little trickier. Luckily, talking with last year’s champions provided important clues: a love of animals and connecting with others seem to be key.

In 2018 Laura Jessup, 12, of Coleridge, took home Grand Champion honors and Caroline Scarlett, 13, of Asheboro, took home Reserve Grand Champion.

Randolph County 4-H Support Specialist Chastity Elliott registered the girls for the show in March and 4-H Agent Allison Walker collected their poults in June.

The rest was up to Laura and Caroline. And it turns out the poults were in great hands.

Laura is a turkey show veteran – she’s shown every year since she was five! What keeps her going back? She “loves the N.C. State Fair and enjoys being part of the turkey show.”

Caroline is no stranger to showing, either. In addition to turkeys, she shows cows and goats. “I really enjoy being around all the animals,” she said about what motivates her to show in so many categories.

These young show ring veterans appreciate how the turkey show brings them together with their family and friends, old and new.

While the Youth Market Turkey Show is a youth event, raising turkey poults often turns into a family affair. Siblings, parents and extended family help raise the turkeys and come to the show to support the young person showing off their hen.

Laura and Caroline clearly got it right with their hens, so we asked them to share their experiences – and tips – with this year’s participants.

Both girls reflected on what they learned – and how to succeed at this year’s show.

How do you feel about doing so well?

Caroline: I was shocked and surprised. Our family had no idea we would do that well.

What was the best part of the show?

turkeys being judged
photo by Maria Jessup

Laura: The best part of the show to me is, as you wait for your class, you meet new friends and are able to spend time talking with old friends.

Caroline: I really enjoy hanging out with my friends and family, but the best part was the thrill and excitement of winning Reserve Grand Champion.

What was the hardest part of showing your turkey?

Laura: The hardest part is knowing you have to give your turkey up at the end, after all the time spent taking care of it.

Caroline: The hardest part was picking up a 32-pound turkey, but it was well worth it in the end.

What advice do you have for everyone showing their turkey this year?

Laura: Keep a positive attitude and enjoy the time making connections.

Caroline: Don’t take it too serious. Have fun and enjoy the time you get to spend with your turkey and family.

Is there anything else you want to share?

Caroline Scarlett kneeling beside her caged turkey
photo by Becky Scarlett

Laura: I would like to wish all the 2019 participants of the Youth Market Turkey Show good luck and look forward to seeing everyone at the show.

Caroline: I enjoyed every minute of the State Fair show experience and am grateful for the opportunity to participate and learn about growing turkeys.

At last year’s Junior Livestock Sale of Champions, Talley Farms bought Laura’s bird for $7,500 and the NC Farm Bureau Insurance & McBride’s Concessions bought Caroline’s bird for $5,000. Can this year’s show raise even more?

Laura and Caroline will each be showing a hen at this year’s show. Be sure to stop by on October 18 at the N.C. State Fair to see how they – and all our participants – do!

The show will be in the Poultry Tent near Gate 2 (map).