By Ismael Perez, Victoria (Texas) Advocate
CUERO, Texas - Hundreds lined up along the sidewalks of Esplanade Street and cheered "Go, Ruby, Go!" as their hometown bird wobbled confidently toward the finish line.
As she crossed the finish line, the bird's opponent was a few yards away but did not stress or lose any feathers. Paycheck had more than a 2-minute advantage over Ruby Begonia before the race even started.
"We did pretty good here, but we had penalties," said Keith Goebel, Cuero turkey team captain. "Again, like in football, penalties will kill ya."
Ruby Begonia and the Cuero team crossed the finish line first at 4 minutes, 6 seconds Saturday at the Great Gobbler Gallop during Turkeyfest. However, because of their penalties, they were defeated by Paycheck and the Worthington team with a time of 3 minutes, 16 seconds.
The overall time combining Saturday and the Sept. 16 race in Worthington, Minn., left Ruby Begonia at 8 minutes, 37 seconds and Paycheck at 4 minutes, 59 seconds.
The race started slow with both turkeys standing still and then making their way to the sidewalks.
The Cuero team received a 30-second penalty for carrying Ruby back to the race, while the Worthington team was not too concerned about time.
"We weren't in such a rush to get down the street as much as Cuero was," said Wade Roesner, 45, coach of the Worthington team. "We didn't have to take any chances on touching the bird to get her to move."
Precelia G. Brown, 85, of Cuero, was sitting by the corner of Main Street and Esplanade Street, the same place she has sat every year since the Great Gobbler Gallop started in 1973.
"It was just great, but I wish Ruby had won," laughed Brown. "It brings back memories. The race is a great tradition and great fellowship."
Goebel said the turkey race is a great part of the weekend festival, but the biggest part that comes out of it is the camaraderie between the two towns.
Roesner said the events the teams participate in before, during and after the race make it seem like they gained a second family.
"It's a fun turkey race, but the friendships we form with the Cuero people is what it's all about," he said.