Turkey testicle festivals draw crowds

HUNTLEY – Breaded and deep-fried turkey testicles in hand, Suzanne and Kurt Kushner tapped the pieces together and tried their first bite.

The Algonquin residents and brother, Aaron Kushner of San Carlos, Calif., decided to check out Parkside Pub’s 31st annual Turkey Testicle Festival – one of three that took place in the area Wednesday evening – before a family dinner.

“I guess [it tastes] like turkey,” Suzanne Kushner said. “The texture is a little different.”

“It’s soft and fatty,” Aaron Kushner added.

While the Kushners lathered their portions with ketchup, the sauces of choice tend to be hot sauce or ranch, said Parkside Pub owner Jeff Lovell, who ordered about 1,200 pounds of turkey testicles for the event.

His advice: “I wouldn’t suggest chewing the larger ones.”

Despite concerns that the cold weather – with a low of 19 degrees, it was the coldest one Lovell can remember – would affect turnout, the event appeared to be weather-proof. By 6 p.m., attendance was on pace to pass the 4,000 mark.

“It’s just become a yearly gathering,” he said. “They see their friends once a year, and this is where they do it.”

Another festival is in its 12th year at Donley’s Wild West Town in Union, and Clasen’s Tavern in Union hosted its first this year.

Antoinette Schaefer, decked out in a hat shaped like a cooked turkey, passed on the festival’s namesake treat.

“I had [the testicles] the first year, and that was enough,” the Cary resident said, adding that they tasted like liver and were “yucky.”

A three-year veteran of the fest, Schaefer comes out with a group of neighbors for the four live bands (particularly for the ’80s music) and the pizza (which she said is quite good).

They can’t stay out too late though; they have to be ready for the Turkey Trot by 8 a.m.

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