Stories in the Rear View Mirror

Delta Daggett

Frazee had an active main street business club in the 50’s. There were many stores and merchants along the streets. Early in 1955, they decided to have an appreciation day and each year recognize some part of the area community in appreciation of the businesses they gave Frazee.

The turkey industry was chosen to be the first one recognized. The name stuck and Turkey Day has carried on for 68 years.

Many people, mostly farmers, grew turkeys in their fields in open range. There were shelters built on skids so the turkeys could roost at night. Turkeys were grown in the thousands, not today’s large barns. Feed mills in Frazee fed the birds and there was a turkey hatchery and Lakeland Turkey Growers was the name on the turkey plant in town.  

Laker Feed was formed by Lee Anderson, Art Quade, Kenny Anderson, Elmer Gibbons, and Ralph Trieglaff.  LAKER comes from the first letter in the first name of the founders.

Gordon Sanders and older Brother Marvin Daggett were appointed Co-Chairmen. I volunteered to help Marvin in any way needed. Marvin gave me a list of 300 names of people and businesses in a 30-mile radius of Frazee who were somehow connected to the turkey business either as growers or suppliers. I addressed envelopes and inserted two Turkey Day Balloons in each one before mailing. This gives you an idea of how diversified the turkey industry was in the Frazee area. 

Gus Riebe had 8- 10 trucks that hauled live turkeys into Frazee most days beginning in midsummer or so. The plant would run until early December and then close until the next summer. The only product was the whole turkey.   

Turkey Day was a one day event. Live turkeys were dispatched from the top of the Baer building several times a day. They could not fly but made a lot of commotion on their way down with their large flapping wings. They were usually caught by boys who were not afraid of the flapping commotion of the bird. Arms were scratched and feathers were in the eyes. Once caught, you had to hold tight or it was on the loose again.  

The Turkey Day luncheon was free and for the first three years was held in the Daggett Implement building which was located where the Dance Studio is now. This was a bare building used for storage. The building had no water and I do not know if it had any electricity but it worked. The plant contributed the turkeys and several growers cooked the birds. Volunteers served the food. I think Hazel Michelson is still handing out sandwiches.  

There was a parade, a small carnival and several kids games including a grease pole climb. Bette Daggett organized a Queen’s  Pageant. The Coronation was held late in the day on a flatbed trailer in front of the SkyView Café.

Frazee should be proud that enough people are interested to keep this event happening every year with all volunteer help. This speaks well of the people in the Frazee area. Events are added and deleted to keep it interesting as people’s interest change.   

Many Frazee graduates look forward to returning to Frazee each year for Turkey Day and connecting with friends and classmates.