Kirksville’s Whiskey and Turkey Festival


Kirksville held its third annual Whiskey and Turkey Festival on Sept. 9. The event ran from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and saw hundreds of attendees flock to downtown Kirksville to indulge in the festivities. Various different stands from local organizations and businesses were present to sell everything from turkey feathers to kettle corn. Singers Travis Gibson and Matt Kennedy performed while many bars on Elson Street opened their doors to customers.

As the night went on the streets became increasingly lively as people filed in and out of the bars, and back and forth from the many food trucks lined across the street. Truman students mixed with locals; playing games of cornhole and browsing the merchandise.

“I heard about it from one of the organizers,” Truman student Adrian Ampon said, “Honestly I think it’s a great way to bring the Truman and Kirksville communities together, and to support local businesses.”

“The festival is a little smaller than I would have thought, but there’s a lot of people here and everyone’s having a good time,” festival-attendee Jimmy Moloney said.

One of the organizers of the event, Winston Vanderoof, a committee member of Main Street Kirksville, explained more about the festival and its origins.

“Kirksville is the turkey capital of the U.S.; people come from all over the country to hunt turkey here,” Vanderoof said. “The whiskey comes in from Jesse Kirk, the founder of Kirksville, who supposedly invited Missouri state surveyors over to his house and got them drunk with turkey and whiskey when he was trying to get the town named after him.” 

The festival serves as a fun way to honor this Kirksville tale, as well as give credence to the reputation the Kirksville area has for its turkey among hunters.