The Turkey Testicle Festival of Byron, Illinois. “Have yourself a ball.”

Testicle Festival

Photo by iluvcocacola — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

It’s Turkey time in America. Perhaps you already have one picked out for your Thanksgiving throwdown, or maybe you’re going to try something more elegant this year, such as Turducken. Or maybe you don’t buy into the idea that a bunch of white guys in tights sat down and broke bread with a slew of Indians in loin cloths and you’re skipping the cockamamie holiday all together. If you make up part of this latter group of non-enthusiasts, but you still kinda like turkey — then you should get yourself down to Byron, Illinois for their annual Turkey Testicle Festival where you can, literally, have yourself a ball.

The first Turkey Testicle Festival was held in 1978, at a time when the host town had only one stop light. Now they have two. The Turkey Testicle Festival is one of those rare occasions that makes you realize that there are a whole lot of things you never think about. Whether this is because you are an ignoramus or because you’ve never considered the reproductive cycle of turkeys isn’t any of our business. This festival is important because it begs an age-old question. Turkeys have… balls? And yes — yes they do. They carry them in their chest cavity right near the gizzards. Around mid-October, turkeys are castrated so that they’ll be juicy and overweight in time for Thanksgiving. The Turkey Testicle Festival is always held on the second weekend in October in order to take advantage of the surplus of testicles available at this time.

For a reason that was not made clear on the Festival’s website, you have to be 21 to participate in the testicular fun. Whether this is because of the presence of alcohol, the sophisticated line-up of live music (“Grumpy Ole Men” and “Gulane and the Giddyups” make regular appearances) or because you need to have fully developed testicles in order to eat them — again, we do not know. What we do know is that the festival costs $5, there are raffles, karaoke, cold beer and lots of side-events for charity, and that like most things in life, when you bread and deep-fry a turkey testicle, it tastes like chicken.

For love of dry white meat, don’t miss out on the Festival’s Theme Song.

Learn more about other great festivals in Illinois.

- Courtney Maum

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